Top 4 Sports Hoaxes

Manti Te’o’s got nothing on these guys.

Manti Te’o’s got nothing on these guys.

Photo: Chris Szagola / Landov | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2013

Unless you’re as clueless as Manti Te’o, chances are you’ve heard about his infamous girlfriend hoax. But Manti’s was far from the first – or most exciting – hoax in the world of sports. Below, some of the best.

1. Simonya Popova

Scores of female athletes have stolen our hearts (Arianny Celeste, Kenda Perez, Hope Solo…), but this Uzbek babe would have taken the cake – if she was actually tangible. In 2002 Sports Illustrated published an article about the supposed up-and-coming tennis player who incidentally resembled every prepubescent boy’s wet dream. But shortly after the issue hit stands, it was revealed that Popova was nothing more than a computer-generated image, and the entire story was a fabricated joke. Bastards. 

2. Kimo Nakahimi

In the early ’80s the Daily Mail concocted a story about a Japanese runner who entered to participate in London’s first annual marathon. As the story went, Kimo entered the marathon, but due to a language barrier he was under the impression that he had to run for 26 consecutive hours, not miles. While the entire story turned out to be nothing more than an April Fool’s joke, various people remained convinced the event had actually taken place, and went directly to the paper’s editor claiming to have witnessed his running spree firsthand. But whether it was 26 miles or 26 hours, we can probably all agree that running is the worst.

3. Sidd Finch

Leave it to Sports Illustrated to destroy our faith for a second time. In the April 1985 issue, George Plimpton wrote an article about Sidd Finch, an insanely talented rookie baseball player training at the Mets camp in Florida. Reportedly pitching a baseball at 168 mph with total accuracy (the current record being a measly speed of 103mph) without ever having played the game in his life, the kid also had a heartwarming sob story to match: he was an orphan adopted by an archeologist who was killed in a plane crash, leading him to Tibet to study things we’ve never heard of. After an overwhelming response from readers, the magazine held a press conference to announce the article had been an April Fools joke. We’re really starting to hate this holiday.

4. Kevin Hart

This poor kid is the quintessential example of how shitty high school is. Kevin Hart, a high school offensive lineman from Nevada with a lousy GPA and poor athleticism, held a fake press conference in 2008 to announce his signing with the Cal Golden Bears, a D-I college football team. Filling his school’s gymnasium with the entire student body along with school administration and his own family members, Kevin proudly accepted his peers’ praise of being the first player from his high school to play at a D-I school. A few hours later, the college’s administration reported that the offer had never been made, and that they had never even heard of him to begin with. Later, Kevin blamed his disillusioned reality on his dreams of playing for a good school. After that show we’d suspect the kid would have at least made it onto the waiting list.

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