Shohei Ohtani says he’s never bet on a sport “shocked” by a scandal
Shohei Ohtani says he’s never bet on a sport “shocked” by a scandal

MLB


Shohei Ohtani has expressed shock and sadness at the betting scandal involving his longtime translator Ippei Mizuhara, while vehemently denying any knowledge of Mizuhara’s debt and confirming that he “never bet on baseball or any other sports.”

“This is all a complete lie,” Ohtani said through his translator.

Shohei Ohtani (b) speaks to reporters on March 25, 2024. MLB Network

Ohtani read a prepared statement to reporters Monday afternoon at Dodgers Stadium before an exhibition game against the Angels — declining to take questions from the media — in his first public comments since his former translator was linked to alleged illegal bookie Mathew Bowyer and accused of gambling debts of $4.5 million.

“Until a few days ago, I didn’t know this was happening,” Ohtani said through his new translator, Will Ireton. “Ippei is stealing money from my account and telling lies.”

He added: “I want to make it clear that I have never bet on sports or knowingly sent money to the bookie.”

Ohtani said he didn’t know about the gambling debt until the Dodgers held a team meeting after their first game against the Padres last week in Seoul, South Korea, and then the pieces began to come together for the Dodgers star, whose lawyers said last week he was “the victim of a massive theft”.

Shohei Ohtani (r.) and reliever Ippei Mizuhara (l.) in the Dodgers’ ballpark during a game against the Padres in Seoul, South Korea on March 21, 2024. ZUMAPRESS.com

Monday marked the first comments Ohtani has made since the murky story broke last week that Mizuhara lost millions of dollars to Bowyer and the funds were transferred from Ohtani’s account to cover the debts.

The Los Angeles Times and ESPN broke the wild story last Wednesday, reporting that Mizuhara had been accused of stealing “millions” from Ohtani.

Mizuhara has not been charged with any crimes.

Later that day, ESPN added to the already strange story by reporting that a Dodgers spokesman said the Dodgers player had transferred $4.5 million to Boyer to cover Mizuhara’s debts and made Mizuhara available of the issuance of a recorded interview.

However, Ohtani’s camp then “disavowed” Mizuhara’s account of what happened.

Los Angeles Dodgers designated hitter Shohei Ohtani (17) holds a bat in the dugout before the game against the Los Angeles Angels at Dodger Stadium. Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN later reported that the confusion apparently occurred because Ohtani’s camp relied on Mizuhara’s version of events before finding out what happened.

Ohtani confirmed Monday that Mizuhara had been trying to mislead him and his team and said he “started to feel something was wrong” when Mizuhara approached the team, even though Ohtani did not have an interpreter with him at the time.

Ohtani and Mizuhara met one-on-one later that day at his hotel, and that’s when the scope of what was happening really dawned, the two-way star said.

“That’s when I realized he had a huge debt,” Ohtani said of the meeting. “During this meeting it was revealed to me that Yipei had admitted to sending money using my account to the bookie. At that point 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 reps, that’s when my reps found out that Yipei had been lying all along. Then I started contacting the Dodgers and my lawyers.

“And the Dodgers and the lawyers at that point also knew they had been lied to.”

Mizuhara also worked as Ohtani’s translator during his tenure with the Angels, and the two were close friends in addition to their working relationship.

Parts of Mizuhara’s past have been called into question, as The Athletic reported that he did not attend UC Riverside in college, as his old Angels bio stated, nor did he work for the Red Sox, as previous media reports indicated .

Los Angeles Dodgers designated hitter Shohei Ohtani (17) in the doubleheader before the game against the Los Angeles Angels at Dodger Stadium. USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

Mizuhara told ESPN that he has bet on sports like football and soccer, but never on baseball.

“I’m very saddened and shocked that someone I trust has done this,” Ohtani said of Mizuhara.

Ohtani signed a 10-year, $700 million contract with the Dodgers this offseason, with $680 million of the money deferred until the end of the contract.




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