Skimm for January 18th

Reasons to buy a blow-up doll

THE STORY: Star Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o is recently single. Whether he actually had a girlfriend to begin with is questionable.

THE WHAT: Until this week, the linebacker's road to success -- as a Heisman trophy finalist and a major player for Notre Dame -- was made all the more high-profile and inspiring because he was said to have overcome unbelievable tragedy. Unbelievable being the key word. Now many are saying Te'o is the victim of a cruel hoax and has lost the ability to trust. Others believe he knew what was up and was after some publicity.

GET TO IT. In September, Te'o found out his grandmother and girlfriend died within hours of one another. The story went national after a big ND game. But in an epic feature, Deadspin said not so much and that the girlfriend Lennay Kekua never existed. Te'o said he is a confused victim. We are just confused.

DID TE'O HAVE A GF? Publically, he sure liked to talk about her. Kekua was believed to be necking with Te'o up until her death from leukemia. Te'o said they met in California back in '09. But this week, he said their love was restricted to the Internet. She was his cyber GF who liked to talk on the phone and didn't like to show up in person. There's no death record for this chick.

WHO IS RONAIAH TUIASOSOPO? Someone who auditioned to be on "The Voice." And didn't get it. RT allegedly knew Te'o and apparently contacted an old high school friend for a picture. She gave him one and that picture turned into Lennay. For real. It is believed RT was pulling the strings and in the process created an entire family for Lennay and for Te'o to talk to.

COME ON. WAS TE'O IN ON IT? Some think he definitely was. Others believe Notre Dame is behind some sort of coverup as well. And others think RT is the meanest man in the world.

THIS IS A BAD LIFETIME MOVIE. WHY AM I SKIMM'ING? Well, at the very least, a truly inspirational story is built on a lie. True or false, there's a lot of sadness here. However it went down, in the wake of Lance Armstrong 'coming clean,' it seems to be athlete confession month.

THE*: Speaking of Lance...Arm-I took some-Strong fooled many over the years, but not the O. He came clean to Oprah in part one of a pre-taped interview about all of his lies in a very awkward exchange. The jig is up, the spandex is off, he doped. But apparently everyone else did, so no biggie. He admitted he is a flawed character. Uh, yeah. He can also say goodbye to his Olympic medal.

REPEAT AFTER ME...What to say while questioning if birth control pills are deductible... Answer: Only if they don't work. Oh, vintage Dear Abby, how will we get by without the original? Pauline Phillips, who nearly 60 years ago transformed herself from a California housewife into a trusted, witty, syndicated columnist known as Dear Abby, passed away at the age of 94. One of her main areas of expertise: sibling rivalry; her twin sister was top advice columnist, Ann Landers. May they both continue to bicker, advise, and make us laugh from above.

What people are horrified by... A significant number of hostages and militants were killed when Algerian forces stormed a desert gas facility in an attempt to free the hostages, including Europeans and Americans, being held by the militants. Radicals, who took control of the gas complex on Wednesday, had been demanding that France stop its attack against Islamist rebels in Mali. It's unclear who were freed, killed, or remain captive. There aren't a lot of details, much to the chagrin of Western governments. We like to be in the know. The event underscores the rising tension in the region, where nearby French troops are trying to help Mali ward off militants.

What to say when in need of a change... Bangs. Bangs are always the answer. The First Lady celebrated her 49th birthday with a new style. Always a risky move before a big event (Inauguration) but Michelle looks bangin' (ha). And it's not officially your birthday until it's announced on Twitter. Her office debuted a new Twitter account, @FLOTUS, to post updates and pics. When does #BOTUS get his?

What to say on your way to Sundance... I will be nice to all airport personnel and over-tip all waiters. It would be mortifying to end up on Nasty Client while here. Revenge from the other side.

What to say while gossiping... There's a valuable upside to staying private. Just ask SurveyMonkey; the Internet survey company raised nearly $800 million all while keeping its CEO's promise to stay private -- for now. Survey says its new round of money will value the company at $1.35 billion. Expensive little monkey. Other companies weren't as lucky. Citigroup's new CEO unveiled disappointing earnings and told investors to lower their expectations. They love that. Meanwhile, American Express was brought down, way way down, by its expensive bottom line. The credit card company's fourth-quarter earnings fell by 47%, in part due to people being less credit crazy. There's no Platinum club for sad investors.

SKIMM FAVOR: Did the person sitting next to you forget to stack up on magazines for the long weekend? Help 'em out. Pass on theSkimm.

BIRTHDAYS: Skimm Sister Jordyn Weisberg (Chicago, IL); Christie Lozen-Looney (Elk Rapids, MI); Lauren Jacobson (Philadelphia, PA); Debra Rask Sakr (Portland, OR); Mary-Ella Aymami (Chicago, IL); Khaki Martin (Washington, DC); Marie Nikolova (New York, NY); Jennifer Palmer (Redondo Beach, CA); Shannon Reeves (Chicago, IL)

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