Shohei Ohtani breaks silence on interpreter gambling scandal: ‘I never bet on baseball or other sports’

Shohei Ohtani breaks silence on interpreter gambling scandal: ‘I never bet on baseball or other sports’
Shohei Ohtani breaks silence on interpreter gambling scandal: ‘I never bet on baseball or other sports’

Los Angeles Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani spoke to the media Monday for the first time since his former translator, Ipei Mizuhara, was fired following allegations that he stole more than $4 million from Ohtani to cover his illegal gambling debts.

In a roughly 12-minute statement, Ohtani denied ever betting on sports and repeatedly said Mizuhara lied to him throughout the process.

«I’m very saddened and shocked that someone I trusted did this,» Ohtani said through an interpreter at the start of his statement. At the time, he denied that he was involved in sports gambling in any form.

«I’ve never bet on baseball or any other sports, or I’ve never asked anyone to do that on my behalf,» he said. «And I’ve never gone through a bookie to bet on sports…

«I didn’t know this was happening until a few days ago… In conclusion, Ippei is stealing money from my account and telling lies.»

Ohtani also denied knowingly paying off any alleged gambling debts.

«To the representatives in my camp, Yipei told the media and the representatives that I, on behalf of a friend, paid off a debt,» he said. “On further questioning it was revealed that Ipei was in fact in debt and told my representatives that I was paying those debts.

«It’s all a complete lie.»

Ohtani also told reporters that Mizuhara had misled the Dodgers by telling the team that he had been in communication with Ohtani about the matter, when in fact he had not.

Ohtani said he first heard about Mizuhara’s alleged gambling during a team meeting after the Dodgers played the San Diego Padres in South Korea last week.

«Until this team meeting, I didn’t know Ipei was a gambling addict and in debt,» Ohtani said. «Apparently I never agreed to repay the debt or make any payments to the bookie.»

Ohtani said that after the team meeting, he and Mizuhara had a one-on-one meeting at their hotel.

«And it was revealed to me during that meeting that Yipei admitted to sending money using my account to the bookie,» he said. «And at that point, it was an absurd thing that was happening, and I contacted my representatives at that point.»

Ohtani said he contacted the Dodgers and his attorneys at that point and that his attorneys advised him to contact the «appropriate authorities» because «theft and fraud» were at work.

«In closing, I want to make it clear that I have never bet on sports or knowingly sent money to the bookie,» he said.

Ohtani concluded by saying he was leaving the situation to his attorneys to handle and that he was «fully cooperating with all investigations.» He didn’t answer questions.

That saga became public on March 20 with a bombshell report by ESPN alleging that Mizuhara, Ohtani’s longtime translator and friend, had been accused of «large-scale theft» of Ohtani’s funds to cover illegal gambling debts and was fired by the Dodgers.

ESPN spoke with Mizuhara on March 19 for 90 minutes and laid out the first public version of the story, claiming that Ohtani paid off Mizuhara’s gambling debts via wire transfer to help Mizuhara quit gambling altogether.

However, this story did not last long. By the end of the day, Mizuhara had denied everything, shortly after Ohtani’s attorneys at Berk Brettler LLP released a statement denying Mizuhara’s story.

«In the course of responding to recent media inquiries, we have discovered that Shohei was the victim of a massive theft and are referring the matter to the authorities,» the statement said.

The change in story from Ohtani helped Mizuhara to Mizuhara stole from Ohtani is hard to ignore. It is also difficult to accept the explanation that Ohtani was unaware of wire transfers from his bank account totaling more than $4 million.

In light of all this confusion, MLB announced on Friday that they have opened an investigation into the situation. Since then, we’ve learned even more about Mizuhara, including apparent inaccuracies on his resume about graduating from UC Riverside and working for the Red Sox and Yankees.

Through it all, Mizuhara maintained that he never bet on baseball and that Ohtani had nothing to do with his gambling.

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