Speaking at a press conference on Monday evening, Shohei Ohtani said he was “very saddened and shocked” regarding the allegations that his friend and interpreter Ippei Mizuhara had lied to him and stole millions from his account to pay off gambling debts. “I never bet on baseball or any other sports,” he added. “I never asked somebody to do that on my behalf and I have never gone through a bookmaker to bet on sports.” It’s the first time Ohtani has spoken publicly since revelations about Mizuhara’s gambling came to light. Will Ireton interpreted for him.  

Ippei Mizuhara shohei ohtani scam

Ohtani Claims He Didn’t Know About Mizuhara’s Gambling Issues

“Ippei has been stealing money from my account and telling lies,” said the Dodgers two-way superstar. “Last weekend in Korea, the media reached out to my camp inquiring about my potential involvement in sports betting. Ippei never revealed to me that there was this media inquiry. He told the media that I — on behalf of a friend — paid off a debt. Upon further questioning, it was revealed that it was actually, in fact, Ippei who was in debt and told my representatives I was paying off those debts. All of this has been a complete lie.”  

Last week, Ohtani’s lawyers accused Mizuhara of committing a “massive theft” against their client in connection to an illegal bookmaking operation run by Mathew Bowyer, multiple sources told ESPN. He reportedly ran up debts with the Californian bookmaker believed to be at least $4.5 million. Those bets were allegedly placed on international football, but not on baseball. On Thursday, the IRS confirmed that Mizuhara and Bowyer are under criminal investigation. The following day, the MLB’s Department of Investigations also began a “formal process investigating the matter.”  

Continuing Speculation

Over the past few days, there has been a lot of speculation that Ohtani himself may have been involved in the gambling scandal. Those rumors are unlikely to go away after this press conference, though, as he didn’t take any questions from reporters or explain how Mizuhara gained access to his bank account. Three-time World Series champion Pete Rose addressed the issue in a video that has gone viral on X. “Well, back in the 70s and 80s, I wish I had an interpreter, I’d be scot-free,” he said.  

In 1989, Rose was penalized with permanent ineligibility from baseball following accusations that he bet on the sport while playing for and managing the Cincinnati Reds. That means he is banned for consideration for the Hall of Fame despite being the all-time MLB leader in hits. 

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