Shohei Ohtani says he has 'never' bet on sports, calls ex-interpreter's story 'complete lie'


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Los Angeles Dodgers superstar Shohei Ohtani publicly addressed the gambling scandal involving his ex-interpreter Ippei Mizuhara, where he said he has never placed a sports bet and Mizuhara’s story about paying off his $4.5 million gambling debt is entirely fabricated. 

“I never bet on baseball or any other sports, or never have asked somebody to do that on my behalf,” Ohtani said through a new English-Japanese interpreter prior to the Dodgers’ final spring training game on Monday. “And never went through a bookmaker to bet on sports.”

Ohtani said he was still trying to find his emotions after learning about the scandal. 

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Shohei Ohtani in the dugout

Los Angeles Dodgers designated hitter Shohei Ohtani runs through the dugout before a spring training baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels in Los Angeles, Sunday, March 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

“To summarize how I’m feeling right now, I’m just beyond shocked,” Ohtani said. “It’s really hard to verbalize how I’m feeling at this point. 

“I’m very saddened and shocked that someone who I trusted has done this.”

Ohtani said he didn’t find out about Mizuhara’s debt and what he was doing with his accounts “up until a couple days ago” while the team was in South Korea for the Seoul Series against the San Diego Padres. 

Ohtani began chronicling his side of the story with a media inquiry that a representative from his camp got. 

SHOHEI OHTANI’S EX-INTERPRETER’S PAST COMES INTO QUESTION AS RED SOX, UNIVERSITY REFUTE CONNECTION: REPORTS

“Last weekend in Korea, media had reached out to a representative in my camp inquiring about my potential involvement in this sports betting,” he explained through his translator. “Ippei never revealed to me that there was this media inquiry. To the representatives in my camp, Ippei told to the media and my representatives that I, on behalf of a friend, paid off debt.

“Upon further questioning, it was revealed that it was actually in fact Ippei who was in debt, and told my representatives that I was paying off those debts. All of this has been a complete lie.”

Ohtani’s attorneys told The Los Angeles Times that Mizuhara was stealing “millions” from the two-way star to gamble through an illegal bookmaker – an Orange County, California resident, Mathew Bowyer, who is under federal investigation.  

Bowyer’s attorney, Diane Bass, told the outlet her client “never met, spoke with, or texted or had any contact in any way” with Ohtani. 

“So Ippei has been telling everybody around that he has been communicating with me on this account to my representatives, to the team, and that has not been true,” Ohtani continued. “The first time I knew about Ippei’s gambling was after the first game [in Korea] when we had a team meeting in the clubhouse.”

Ohtani with interpreter

Shohei Ohtani, right, of the Los Angeles Dodgers speaks to the media with the help of his interpreter Ippei Mizuhara during DodgerFest a celebration of the upcoming season with live entertainment, behind-the-scenes experiences, food, drinks and meeting the newest Dodgers at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Saturday, February 3, 2024.  (Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images)

Mizuhara had an interview with ESPN, where he shared his story, telling the outlet Ohtani was covering the debts knowingly to help out a close friend. But ESPN was told shortly after by Ohtani’s attorney that it was, instead, a “massive theft” by Mizuhara.

Mizuhara spoke with Dodgers representatives at that team meeting Ohtani mentioned in English after telling the ballplayer he would speak with him “one to one” afterwards. 

“I didn’t have a translator on my side,” Ohtani said about that team meeting. “But even with that, I kinda understood what was going on and started to feel that there was something amiss.

SHOHEI OHTANI’S INTERPRETER ACCUSED OF STEALING MILLIONS FROM DODGERS STAR TO GAMBLE: REPORT

“Up until that team meeting, I didn’t know that Ippei had a gambling addiction and was in debt. At that point, I never agreed to pay off the debt or make payments to the bookmaker.”

Ohtani and Mizuhara returned to the team hotel, where the latter spilled everything.

“When we went back to the hotel one to one, that was when I found out he had a massive debt,” Ohtani said. It was revealed to me during that meeting that Ippei admitted he was sending money using my account to the bookmaker. At that moment, obviously it was an absurd thing that was happening, and I contacted my representatives at that point.

“When I was finally able to talk to my representatives, that’s when my representatives found out Ippei has been lying the whole time, and that’s when I started contacting the Dodgers and my lawyers. The Dodgers and the lawyers at that moment found out also as well they had been lied to. My lawyers recommended that, since this is theft and fraud, we have the proper authorities handle this matter.”

Ohtani closed his statement by reiterating, “I have not bet on sports, or have willfully sent money to the bookmaker.”

Reporters were not allowed to ask Ohtani questions following the statement, so questions like how Mizuhara had access to Ohtani’s bank accounts remains a mystery. 

MLB and the IRS have opened investigations into the matter. 

Shohei Ohtani brushes his hair back

Los Angeles Dodgers designated hitter Shohei Ohtani walks through the dugout during the first inning of a spring training baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels in Los Angeles, Sunday, March 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

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Mizuhara had been Ohtani’s personal translator since breaking into MLB in 2018 with the Los Angeles Angels. They were inseparable, as Mizuhara would even catch Ohtani’s bullpen sessions and play catch with him in the outfield before games. 

The Dodgers confirmed Mizuhara was terminated from his role as Ohtani’s translator following the report. 

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