Shohei Ohtani Says He Never Bet on Sports, Interpreter Stole Money, Told Lies

Los Angeles — Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani said Monday he never bet on sports and interpreter Ippei Mizuhara stole money from him and told lies.

Ohtani held a news conference at Dodger Stadium, five days after Mizuhara was fired by the Dodgers following reports from the Los Angeles Times and ESPN about his alleged ties to an illegal bookmaker and debts well over $1 million.

“I am very saddened and shocked someone whom I trusted has done this,” the Japanese baseball star said sitting next to Will Ireton, the team’s manager of performance operations, who translated.

Ohtani spoke for nearly 12 minutes, referring to a document in front of him. He did not take questions.

“Ippei has been stealing money from my account and has been telling lies,” Ohtani said. “I never bet on sports or have willfully sent money to the bookmaker.”

A two-time Most Valuable Player, Ohtani left the Los Angeles Angels in December to sign a record $700 million, 10-year contract with the Dodgers.

“I never bet on baseball or any other sports or have never asked somebody to do it on my behalf and I have never gone through a bookmaker to bet on sports. And I was never asked to assist betting payment for anyone else,” Ohtani said.

The Internal Revenue Service has confirmed that Mizuhara and Mathew Bowyer, the alleged illegal bookmaker, are under criminal investigation through the agency’s Los Angeles Field Office.

Mizuhara told ESPN on March 19 that Ohtani paid his gambling debts at the interpreter’s request and the bets were on international soccer, the NBA, the NFL and college football. Major League Baseball rules prohibit players and team employees from wagering — even legally on baseball — and also ban betting on other sports with illegal or offshore bookmakers.

ESPN said Mizuhara changed his story the following day, claiming Ohtani had no knowledge of the gambling debts and had not transferred any money to bookmakers.

“All of this has been a complete lie,” Ohtani said. “Ippei obviously basically didn’t tell me about the media inquiry. So Ippei has been telling everyone around that he has been communicating with me on this account to the media and my team and that hasn’t been true.”

Ohtani said he first became aware of Mizuhara’s gambling problem during a team meeting after last Wednesday’s game with San Diego in Seoul, South Korea.

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