Ohtani Denies Gambling Involvement

Shohei Ohtani
Shohei Ohtani | Image by Michael Owens/Getty Images

Major League Baseball two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani has found himself in hot water after it was recently discovered that his interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, had allegedly used money from Ohtani’s account for sports gambling.

The allegations have given rise to debate over Ohtani’s involvement and whether the payments, found in Ohtani’s name, were actually his own bets, but the 29-year-old adamantly rejected such claims on Monday before his Los Angeles Dodgers played an exhibition game against his former team, the Los Angeles Angels.

“On a personal note, I’m very saddened and shocked that someone who I’ve trusted has done this,” Ohtani told the media through Dodgers’ manager of performance operations, Will Ireton, serving as his new interpreter. “Obviously, today, there are things I’m limited in talking about. I hope you understand.”

“… I never bet on baseball or any other sports, have never asked someone to do it on my behalf, and have never gone through a bookmaker to bet on sports,” he continued. “Up until a couple days ago, I didn’t know this was happening.”

After the allegations emerged, Ohtani and the Dodgers fired Mizuhara, and Ohtani’s comments refuted the interpreter’s story. According to ESPN, Mizuhara said in an interview that Ohtani offered to pay his debts once he came clean about the more than $4 million he owed to a Southern California-base bookmaker.

“I explained my situation, and obviously he wasn’t happy about it, but he said he would help me,” he told the network.

According to ESPN, the payments were made as wire transfers in Ohtani’s name last September and October. However, Ohtani says Mizuhara has been spreading false information, and his longtime friend stole the money to pay the debts.

“Ippei has been stealing money from my account and has told lies,” Ohtani added. “… All of this has been a complete lie. Ippei has been telling everyone around that he has been communicating with me on all of this … and that hasn’t been true. … I never agreed to pay off that debt or make payments to the bookmaker.”

Ohtani also added that he is leaving the case to his lawyers and cooperating with authorities throughout the ongoing investigation.

The story broke while the Dodgers were in Seoul, South Korea, for a two-game series against the San Diego Padres to open the MLB season. They will return to regular-season play against the St. Louis Cardinals in Los Angeles on Thursday.

Support our non-profit journalism

Continue reading on the app
Expand article