Shohei Ohtani: 'I Never Bet on Baseball or Any Other Sport' MLB Star Says in 1st Public Statement on Scandal

Dodgers star says former friend and interpreter Ippei Mizuhara "has been stealing money from my account and telling lies."

Mar 25, 2024 • 18:53 ET • 4 min read
Shohei Ohtani MLB Los Angeles Dodgers
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

MLB superstar and reigning AL MVP Shohei Ohtani spoke to the media Monday, his first public appearance since his former interpreter Ippei Mizuhara was fired by the Los Angeles Dodgers last week for allegedly racking up millions of dollars of gambling debts with an illegal bookmaker in Orange County. 

“I never bet on baseball or any other sports or never have asked somebody to do it on my behalf, and I have never went through a bookmaker to bet on sports,” Ohtani said.

Ohtani read from a document and spoke in Japanese while Will Ireton, Dodgers manager of performance operations, translated for him. 

“I do want to make it clear that I never bet on sports or have willfully sent money to a bookmaker,” Ohtani concluded in his press conference that lasted just under 12 minutes.

He did not take any questions after detailing what has transpired since the news originally broke during the Dodgers’ trip to South Korea to play the Padres last week. 

According to Ohtani, Mizuhara “has been stealing money from my account and has been telling lies.” 

Mizuhara initially told reporters that Ohtani was paying off his gambling debts on his behalf as a friend, but Ohtani’s testimony Monday tells another story.

“All of this has been a complete lie," Ohtani said.

Ohtani said he did not know anything about Mizuhara’s gambling until the Dodgers had a team meeting in the clubhouse about the matter after their first game in South Korea. During that team meeting, Mizuhara was speaking English and Ohtani didn’t have another translator on his side, but even without one, he said he started to feel something was “amiss.”

Ohtani acknowledged that up until that team meeting he didn’t know his now-former interpreter had a gambling addiction and was also in debt. 

“Obviously, I never agreed to pay off the debt or to make payments to the bookmaker,” Ohtani asserted.

He revealed that Mizuhara finally admitted to using his bank account to pay the bookmaker when they spoke to one another after the team meeting. 

“Obviously it was an absurd thing that was happening and I contacted my representatives at that point.”

Ohtani said that when he was finally able to talk with his representatives, they discovered that Mizuhara’s been lying the whole time, so they escalated the situation to the Dodgers and his lawyers. 

His lawyers then recommended that “since this is theft and fraud, we let the proper authorities handle this matter.”

He tried to summarize how he was feeling about the entire situation, saying he’s “very saddened and shocked that someone who I trusted has done this.”

An MLB source told ESPN that MLB investigators have spoken with federal prosecutors and are free to proceed without restrictions in their own investigation into the illegal bookmaking operation Mizuhara was making payments to. The league does not expect to receive any information about the case until the investigation is concluded though. 

Pages related to this topic

Popular Content

Covers 25 Years Logo Established in 1995,
Covers is the world
leader in sports
betting information.
Covers is verified safe by: Evalon Logo GPWA Logo GDPR Logo GeoTrust Logo Evalon Logo