Regularly standing alongside Shohei Ohtani for interviews, Ippei Mizuhara is one of the world’s most famous interpreters.  This week, though, it is Mizuhara himself making headlines after he was fired by the Los Angeles Dodgers after Ohtani’s lawyers accused him of committing a “massive theft” against the two-way superstar in connection to an illegal bookmaking operation run by Mathew Bowyer that is under federal investigation, multiple sources told ESPN.

Mizuhara’s Mounting Gambling Debts

According to ESPN, he ran up debts with the Californian bookmaker believed to be at least $4.5 million. Speaking to the American cable sports channel on Tuesday, Mizuhara said he asked Ohtani to help him pay off those debts. “Obviously, he wasn’t happy about it and said he would help me out to make sure I never do this again,” said Mizuhara. “He decided to pay it off for me. I want everyone to know Shohei had zero involvement in betting.” 

On Wednesday afternoon, however, Mizuhara told ESPN that Ohtani didn’t know about his gambling debts and that he hadn’t transferred money to the bookmaker’s associate. On the same day, a statement from the West Hollywood law firm Berk Brettler LLP read: “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.”

While sports betting is legal in 40 US states, it is outlawed in California. MLB players can bet on sports other than baseball, but they are prohibited from gambling with illegal bookmakers. There hasn’t been any suggestion that Ohtani has been gambling himself. Mizuhara was also keen to stress that he has “never bet on baseball. That’s 100%. I knew that rule.” 

Shohei Ohtani

Ippei Mizuhara and Shohei Ohtani: A Close Friendship

Mizuhara began working as a personal interpreter for Ohtani after the Iwate prefecture-native signed for the Los Angeles Angels in December 2017. They quickly became close friends beyond their working relationship.

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