Shohei Ohtani says he never participated in any sports gambling and accuses interpreter of ‘stealing money’

Los Angeles Dodgers superstar Shohei Ohtani issued a forceful and detailed statement to reporters Monday denying he’d ever participated in any sports gambling amid the mounting scandal involving allegations his former interpreter stole money from him and placed sports bets.

Ohtani said his translator had been “stealing money” from his accounts to pay off debts from a “gambling addiction” and he had no knowledge of the scheme.

“I’m very saddened and shocked that someone who I’ve trusted has done this,” Ohtani said.

The remarks from Ohtani, who typically shies from media interviews, were his first public comments since the scandal broke.

The allegations came to light last week when Ohtani’s Japanese interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, was fired after Ohtani’s lawyers accused him of “massive theft” of millions of dollars and placing bets with a bookmaker under federal investigation, according to ESPN and the Los Angeles Times, which first reported the story.

Ohtani signed an unparalleled 10-year, $700 million deal with the Dodgers this offseason after winning the American League MVP award twice over the past three seasons as a pitcher and designated hitter with the Los Angeles Angels.

The scandal has threatened to overshadow the start of MLB’s Opening Day on Thursday, challenged the public’s understanding of one of baseball’s biggest stars, and brought renewed scrutiny to professional sports’ closeness with gambling.

The league prohibits players, coaches, umpires and employees from gambling on baseball or placing wagers on any sport with a person running an illegal gambling operation. Copies of Rule 21 are required to be posted in every clubhouse.

Major League Baseball and the Internal Revenue Service are separately investigating Mizuhara.

“Major League Baseball has been gathering information since we learned about the allegations involving Shohei Ohtani and Ippei Mizuhara from the news media,” officials said in a news release last week. “Earlier today, our Department of Investigations began their formal process investigating the matter.”

The IRS Criminal Investigation Los Angeles Field Office is investigating both Mizuhara and Mathew Bowyer, IRS spokesman Scott Villiard told CNN on Friday.

Bowyer, a former bookmaker, is a California resident who bankruptcy court documents show had gambling debts of $425,000 more than a decade ago.

Ohtani and Mizuhara first worked together from 2013 to 2017 when Mizuhara served as a translator for the Nippon-Ham Fighters, Ohtani’s team with Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball League, according to When Ohtani joined the Angels in 2018, he asked Mizuhara to join him as his translator in his MLB rookie season, and Mizuhara eventually followed the star to the Dodgers.

ESPN’s Tisha Thompson, citing multiple unnamed sources, said on CNN’s “The Lead” last week at least $4.5 million was withdrawn via wire transfer from Ohtani’s bank accounts, though it is unclear who initiated the transfers.

CNN has sought comment from Mizuhara and Ohtani’s agent. Ohtani’s attorneys have not detailed how they believe the funds were stolen, fueling questions about the scandal that emerged as Ohtani made his much-anticipated debut with the Los Angeles Dodgers while in South Korea.

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