Dodgers Fire Ohtani’s Friend, Interpreter Amid Gambling-Related Theft Allegation

Shohei Ohtani, Dodgers

Getty Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Los Angeles Dodgers have dismissed star Shohei Ohtani‘s interpreter following criminal allegations of theft tied to a substantial gambling debt.

The Los Angeles Times reported on Wednesday, March 20, that the allegations came to light via a separate investigation into a gambling operation in Southern California:

Representatives of Dodgers superstar Shohei Ohtani on Wednesday accused his interpreter of engaging in a ‘massive theft’ of the ballplayer’s funds to place bets with an allegedly illegal bookmaker who is the target of a federal investigation.

Lawyers for Ohtani made that claim after The Times learned that Ohtani’s name had surfaced in the investigation of Mathew Bowyer, an Orange County resident. Ohtani’s representatives looked into the actions of the interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, in response to The Times’ queries, a source close to the matter said. Two sources told the newspaper that the money involved was in the millions of dollars.

Details From Shohei Ohtani’s Camp Changed After ESPN Interview With Ippei Mizuhara

Shohei Ohtani

GettyShohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

In a separate report, ESPN pinned down the amount Mizuhara is accused of stealing to “at least $4.5 million.” Tisha Thompson of ESPN wrote that the information coming from Ohtani’s representatives on the situation changed from the initial inquisition to the next.

At first, Ohtani’s representatives said he transferred the money to Bowyer willingly to cover Mizuhara’s debts. However, after ESPN conducted an extensive interview with Mizuhara on March 19, Ohtani’s representatives denied the interpreter’s version of events.

Ohtani’s lawyers later offered a prepared statement on his behalf.

“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,” Berk Brettler LLP wrote, per Thompson.

Mizuhara, Other Sources Claim Shohei Otani Not Tied to Any Form of Sports Gambling

Los Angeles Dodgers designated hitter Shohei Ohtani

GettyShohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

As sports gambling has grown ubiquitous across the U.S. in recent years due to law changes in several states, a brighter spotlight has shined on concerns about players gambling and the integrity of contests across the sporting landscape.

With those concerns resting in the forefront of the sporting public’s collective consciousness, Thompson noted that “multiple sources, including Mizuhara” adamantly denied that Ohtani has ever been involved with any type of sports gambling.

“Sources close to the gambling operation told ESPN that Bowyer dealt directly with Mizuhara, who placed bets on international soccer matches and other sports — but not baseball — starting in 2021,” Thompson wrote.

“A source said Bowyer was aware of [Ohtani’s] name on [multiple] wire transfers but chose not to ask any questions as long as payments came in; however, the source said Bowyer allowed people to believe Ohtani was a client in order to boost business.”

Bowyer’s lawyer confirmed to Thompson that her client “never met or spoke with” the Dodgers star player, but offered no comment in response to several other questions.

During his interview with ESPN, Mizuhara also directly addressed what he said was Ohtani’s lack of involvement or previous knowledge of Mizuhara’s gambling activities.

“Obviously, [Ohtani] wasn’t happy about it and said he would help me out to make sure I never do this again. He decided to pay it off for me,” Mizuhara said.

“I want everyone to know Shohei had zero involvement in betting. I want people to know I did not know this was illegal. I learned my lesson the hard way. I will never do sports betting ever again.”

Thompson described Mizuhara, 39, as a “longtime friend” of Ohtani, who is 10 years his junior.

Read More