Shohei Ohtani Breaks Silence On Interpreter Firing, Gambling Controversy

By Jason Hall

March 25, 2024

Photo: Getty Images

Los Angeles Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani denied betting on "baseball or any other sports" and claims his former interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, stole "money from my account and has told lies" in relation to a gambling scandal that led to his firing last week.

"I never bet on baseball or any other sports or never have asked somebody to do it on my behalf and I have never went through a bookmaker to bet on sports," Ohtani said, acknowledging the situation through a new interpreter for the first time since news of Mizuhara's firing while addressing reporters at Dodger Stadium on Monday (March 25).

"Ippei has been stealing money from my account and has told lies," he concluded through an interpreter.

Last week, sources with knowledge of the situation confirmed to TMZ Sports that Major League Baseball was reportedly investigating Ohtani's involvement in the gambling scandal. Representatives for Ohtani are reported to have contacted law enforcement authorities and asked them to investigate a "massive theft" of money from the two-way baseball player, a source with direct knowledge of the situation told ESPN last Thursday (March 21).

An MLB source told ESPN that the league hasn't been contacted by federal authorities in relation to the alleged incident. Mizuhara, 39, a longtime friend of Ohtani, reportedly sent $4.5 million from Ohtani's bank account to a Southern California bookmaking operation currently under federal investigation.

The interpreter's firing came after reporters asked questions about the wire transfers. A spokesperson for Ohtani claimed the baseball player transferred the funds to cover Mizuhara's gambling debt and presented the interpreter, who went into detail about his actions to ESPN during a 90-minute interview Tuesday (March 19) night.

The spokesman would later disavow Mizuhara's account of the incident and said Ohtani's lawyers would prepare a statement when ESPN published its story on Wednesday (March 20).

"In the course of responding to recent media inquiries, we discovered that Shohei has been the victim of a massive theft, and we are turning the matter over to the authorities," a statement obtained by ESPN from Berk Brettler LLP reads.

Ohtani's spokesman declined additional questions regarding the incident and didn't specify when they believe the alleged theft took place.

Ohtani, who spent his first six MLB seasons with the Los Angeles Angels, announced his decision to sign with the Dodgers in a post shared on his Instagram account Saturday (December 9). The Japanese native is arguably the biggest star in baseball as one of the league's best starting pitchers and hitters.

Ohtani led his country to a World Baseball Classic last March, days before his second AL MVP season in which he hit for a .304 average with a league-best 44 home runs and 95 RBIs and recorded a 10-5 record with a 3.14 ERA and 167 strikeouts in 23 starts and 132.0 innings pitched in 2023. The Japanese star signed a record-setting $700 million deal to join the Dodgers this offseason -- having previously spent his entire MLB career with the Los Angeles Angels -- which included the team deferring $68 million of the $70 million annual salary in an effort to have more spending room.

Advertise With Us
Music, radio and podcasts, all free. Listen online or download the iHeart App.


© 2024 iHeartMedia, Inc.