Manti Te’o is an ex-professional football player who has gained both acclaim and controversy throughout his career. He is one of the most famous athletes to ever come out of Hawaii and one of that state’s most sought-after recruits.
As a linebacker, Te’o played in college, followed by an NFL career that spanned 2013 to 2021. This powerful athlete was a popular draft pick and made a whole lot of money playing pro. But, if you want to know about Manti Te’o’s net worth, we have to look into his contracts and career earnings to see where his finances are at now.
Manti Te’O Net Worth and Salary
Manti Te’o has a net worth estimated at $3.5 million. The majority of Manti Te’o’s earnings have come from playing professional football in the NFL. And, of course, from investments he has made with his money. While this net worth sounds pretty high to the average Joe, it’s a whole lot less than expected.
After all, when Te’o was drafted by the San Diego Chargers in 2013, he was given a signing bonus of over $2 million. The 4-year contract he signed also guaranteed him $3.1 million over the next four years, or a salary of $775,000 per year. Not bad at all.
He then signed a 2-year contract with the New Orleans Saints in 2017…
This deal paid him nearly $5 million, with $2.2 million in bonuses and $2.55 million in salary. Manti Te’o’s biggest payout was in the 2018 season with the Saints, taking in a big salary of $1.7 million. From there, his salary dropped dramatically as he was injured and hardly played. He still received $189,000 for the 2019 season.
After that, Te’o was traded to the Chicago Bears but was placed on their practice squad list. This gave him an earning of only $132,000. In early 2021, his contract ended. Still, if you add it all up, he made over $10.4 million during his football career. This is all before taxes and fees, of course. But, with some careful investment, this is enough money to very comfortably retire.
Manti Te’o’s career started very promisingly and brought him to the NFL. However, injuries plagued his game, and he ended up having to cut his professional football career short.
Still, with 32 teams in the league and each allowed to carry only 53 players, that’s just 1,696 active NFL players at any time. So, the field is incredibly tough, and it’s a dream come true for any athlete to make it into this professional sport.
Manti Te’o (whose name, by the way, is pronounced something like “Man Tie Tay Oh”) began his football journey in high school, where he excelled as a linebacker at Punahou School in Hawaii, beginning in 2006. In his junior year, his play was so impressive that he was named state defensive player of the year. As a linebacker and an offensive running back, he managed 90 tackles, five sacks, and ten touchdowns in that year.
The next year he was a senior and was truly a force to be reckoned with. Manti made 129 tackles, 11 sacks, and made four touchdowns. He led his team to the 2008 Hawaii state championship, the first the team had ever won. Again, he was named defensive player of the year. Naturally, this kind of performance stirred up a lot of interest from talent scouts around the country.
With tons of hype surrounding him, Te’o had his pick of college teams to play for. He was considered a 5-star recruit that just about every team wanted. So, when he chose to go to the Fighting Irish, there were a lot of disappointed teams out there. He continued his impressive performance at the collegiate level, playing for the University of Notre Dame, where he stayed for four seasons.
His very first game with the Fighting Irish saw him make his first collegiate tackle against the now-famous quarterback Colin Kaepernick. In his first year, he was named a Freshman All-American for his impressive performance, including 63 tackles.
His sophomore year saw him make 133 tackles, leading his entire squad. As a junior, he made 128 tackles and another 103 as a senior. This made him one of just ten players to make 300 or more tackles at Notre Dame.
During his time with the Fighting Irish…
Te’o was a standout player, earning numerous accolades, including the prestigious Heisman Trophy finalist nomination in 2012. That same year, he won the Maxwell Award and the Lott Trophy. He also took home the Lombardi Award, Butkus Award, Walter Camp Award, Bednarik Award, and the Bronko Nagurski Trophy. Talk about a whole lot of awards for a college athlete!
This also made him the most highly decorated college football player from Hawaii ever. Te’o was on track for a very bright career in the NFL. However, as we’ll see, things didn’t go exactly as planned for the young player.
In 2013, Manti Te’o entered the professional football realm when he was drafted by the San Diego Chargers (now Los Angeles Chargers) in the second round of the NFL Draft. It was widely expected that he would be selected in the first round of the draft.
However, he had been dogged by a very serious, headline-grabbing controversy the year before that may have made him less enticing as a player. More on that later. He was also shown to be running more slowly than expected in his predraft stats. That was another reason he missed the first round.
San Diego Chargers
In the end, he went to the Chargers as the 38th overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft. This worked out well for him, and he was very happy about the location. That’s because he was able to fly from San Diego directly to his home in Hawaii or fly his parents out to watch his games. Te’o signed on for four years with a contract worth a touch over $5 million.
Things didn’t start smoothly, though…
Manti injured his foot in a preseason game and ended up missing the first game of the regular season. But, in the second game, he was ready to play, and he made his first NFL career tackle against – guess who? – Colin Kaepernick. First in college and now first in the NFL, too. In this first season, he started in just 13 games but made an impressive 61 tackles.
The next season he was poised to do better, but he broke his foot early in the season. When he came back to play mid-season, he did well and managed another 61 tackles in 2014.
The next season, 2015, was an improvement. He made 83 single and assisted tackles in the season but also missed games due to a serious ankle injury. And the 2016 season went even worse for the Hawaiian linebacker. He played three games and made 11 tackles this season. But, in late September, he tore his Achilles tendon and was taken out of commission for the rest of the season.
New Orleans Saints
In light of all of these injuries, the Chargers decided not to renew his contract. Instead, he became a free agent and was signed to a 2-year contract with the New Orleans Saints. Despite his potential, and a fat contract worth nearly $5 million, his performance with the Saints didn’t live up to expectations.
His first season with the team in 2017 was his second-best in the NFL. He led the team in tackles with 62 tackles and three passes defended in 16 games played. Things were looking up. However, in 2018 he was only used in five games despite being healthy. He made 18 tackles but simply didn’t get the playing time to put on a great performance.
Then his contract ended, and he wasn’t renewed right away. Eventually, he was re-signed for one year in late 2019. But he only played three games with the team, averaging only two tackles per game.
Manti Te’o was signed to the Chicago Bears practice squad in 2020. This paid him only a fraction of what he had been making on the active squad, but it seemed to have been his only option. With his history of injuries and his increasing age, no other teams took a chance on him.
He played one playoff game (against his previous team, the Saints) in January 2021, and then his contract expired and was not renewed. At the age of 30, Manti Te’o’s professional football career was over, at least for now. We’ll have to wait and see if he becomes involved in football again as a trainer, coach, or otherwise. And what that might mean for the Manti Te’o net worth figure.
Manti Te’o Girlfriend Controversy
While he was a tremendously powerful player early on in his career, Manti Te’o is often remembered for something else that happened during his college football years. This is normally referred to as the Manti Te’o catfishing controversy. The event has been made into a riveting Netflix documentary called Untold: The Girlfriend Who Didn’t Exist.
Te’o was still playing for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and was constantly in the spotlight due to his great performance. But, when he was asked about his personal life and his love life, he gave a surprising reply. He admitted that he’d had a girlfriend, a woman named Lennay Kekua, but she had passed away tragically.
The story he told was that she’d been in a car accident and had been injured. At the hospital, she was then discovered to have had leukemia and died shortly thereafter. When the media tried to track down this woman’s family, however, they couldn’t find a trace.
At first, it seemed like Te’o had made the whole thing up since he also told contradicting stories. He first said they had only met online and talked on the phone. But, he also told some sources they had met in person.
The truth came out in 2013…
It turned out that Te’o had never met her in person and just lied about that so his parents wouldn’t think it was weird. But, it gets weirder. There never was a woman named Lennay Kekua, and she certainly hadn’t died of cancer.
Instead, Te’o had been catfished by Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, an acquaintance pretending to be Kekua. At the time, Tuiasosopo had been a man just pretending to be a woman to extort money from Te’o but is now a transgender woman.
There’s no word on how much Manti Te’o was taken for in the catfishing scam. But, the embarrassment and controversy of the incident cost him dearly. This is one reason he wasn’t chosen in the 1st round of the draft. And that certainly cost him millions of dollars in his contract. As well as diminishing the Manti Te’o net worth numbers for the future.
Personal and Family Life
Outside of football, Manti Te’o leads a private personal life. Manti was born in Laie, Hawaii, on the 26th of January, 1991. He comes from a close-knit family and values the support they provide, including his five brothers and sisters.
Additionally, he is a Mormon or a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day saints. Te’o has been vocal about his Samoan heritage and the influence it has had on his life and career.
Although details about Manti Te’o’s romantic life have been scarce since the hoax incident, it’s confirmed that he married his model and personal trainer girlfriend, Jovi Nicole Engbino, in 2020. Together, they have a daughter named Hiro, who was born in 2021.
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Manti Te’o Net Worth and Career Summarized
Manti Te’o grew up in Hawaii and very quickly stood out as a formidable football player. He had a tremendous collegiate football career as a linebacker, winning awards and posting records for his defensive skill. But, while at college, he was wrapped up in a catfishing hoax that certainly marred his career.
In the NFL, he played for the Chargers, Saints, and Bears over nine seasons, though he was troubled by some serious injuries. He made over $10 million gross playing football, but currently, his net worth is estimated at $3.5 million.
We know he has bought some property and made other investments with his financial resources. So, what’s next for this young, wealthy retiree? We’ll just have to wait and see what he does with his time and his millions.
Until next time, may you find your success.
1 Why did the San Diego Chargers release Manti Te’o?
The Chargers released Manti Te’o in 2015, citing performance and injury issues. Te’o had struggled with injuries throughout his career, including a foot injury that sidelined him for most of the 2014 season. He also faced criticism for his inconsistent performance on the field, which led to reduced playing time and eventually his release.
2 How much did Manti Te’o make in the NFL?
Manti Te’o’s salary in the NFL varied depending on the team he played for and the length of his contract. He signed a four-year contract worth $5.1 million with the San Diego Chargers, which included a signing bonus of $2.3 million. He earned an average of $2 million a year with the New Orleans Saints. Overall, Te’o’s earnings in the NFL were estimated at $10.8 million.
3 Was Manti Te’o involved in the catfishing scandal?
Manti Te’o was the victim of the catfishing scandal, in which he was deceived into believing he had a girlfriend who didn’t exist. He was not involved in the hoax and claimed that he was also a victim.
4 How did Manti Te’o become famous?
Manti Te’o became famous for his college football career at the University of Notre Dame, where he was a standout player and won several awards for his performance. He was drafted by the San Diego Chargers in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft and signed a multi-million dollar contract.
5 What is Manti Te’o doing now?
Manti Te’o hasn’t played professional football since becoming a free agent in 2018. There’s no public information about his current career or activities. However, he has remained active on social media and has shared photos of his workout routines and personal life.
6 How did Manti Te’o respond to the catfishing scandal?
Manti Te’o denied any involvement in the catfishing scandal and claimed that he was also a victim. He appeared on television interviews to explain his side of the story and apologized for the deception. He also said that he was embarrassed and humiliated by the incident.
7 What awards did Manti Te’o win in college?
Manti Te’o won several awards for his performance in college, including the Chuck Bednarik Award for best defensive player, the Bronco Nagurski Trophy for best defensive player, and the Butkus Award for best linebacker. He was also a consensus All-American and a Heisman Trophy finalist.
8 What was Manti Te’o’s position in football?
Manti Te’o played linebacker in college and the NFL. He was known for his speed, agility, and tackling skills, which made him a dominant player on the field. He was a two-time captain at Notre Dame and earned All-American honors three times.