HomeMLB RumorsOhtani's Interpreter Fired, Accused Of Theft And Illegal Gambling

Ohtani’s Interpreter Fired, Accused Of Theft And Illegal Gambling

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On Wednesday evening, the Dodgers announced they’d fired Ippei Mizuhara, who was working as Shohei Ohtani’s personal interpreter. Mizuhara has been Ohtani’s friend and interpreter dating back to before his signing with the Angels in 2017.

Gustavo Arellano, Adam Elmahrek, Nathan Fenno and Paul Pringle of the Los Angeles Times first reported the news, which comes amidst a probe into an alleged illegal gambling operation in Southern California. Attorneys for Ohtani told the L.A. Times that the two-way star “had been the victim of a massive theft.” While that statement did not specify who had committed that alleged theft, the evident implication is that Mizuhara did so.

ESPN’s Tisha Thompson reported that upwards of $4.5MM had been wired from a bank account in Ohtani’s name to the alleged gambling ring. Sports gambling remains illegal in California. A spokesperson for Ohtani initially told ESPN that the two-time MVP had wired the money to pay off gambling debts which Mizuhara had accrued. The spokesperson later retracted that and pointed to the attorneys’ statement concerning theft.

Mizuhara and other sources told ESPN that Ohtani does not gamble and that the wire transfers covered losses which the interpreter had racked up. An attorney for Matthew Bowyer, the alleged bookmaker, said in a statement to ESPN that “Mr. Bowyer never met or spoke with Shohei Ohtani.” ESPN reports that Mizuhara had placed bets with Bowyer on various sports, not including baseball, going back to 2021.

On Tuesday, Mizuhara told ESPN that he’d asked Ohtani to pay off his gambling debts. “Obviously, he wasn’t happy about it and said he would help me out to make sure I never do this again,” Mizuhara had said. “He decided to pay it off for me. 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.” Mizuhara had stated that he and Ohtani sent multiple wire transfers to the bookmaker in installments; ESPN observed two transfers at $500K apiece in Ohtani’s name.

Mizuhara disavowed those comments this afternoon, telling ESPN that Ohtani was unaware of the gambling debts and had not transferred any money. “Obviously, this is all my fault, everything I’ve done. I’m ready to face all the consequences,” he said on Wednesday. He reiterated that he did not place any bets on baseball.

Needless to say, MLB players and team employees are prohibited from placing bets on baseball. They are allowed to place bets on other sports, although that obviously only applies in jurisdictions where sports gambling is legal.

The Dodgers are aware of media reports and are gathering information,” the club said in a statement. “The team can confirm that interpreter Ippei Mizuhara has been terminated. The team has no further comment at this time.” An MLB official told Andy McCullough, Fabian Ardaya, Britt Ghiroli and Sam Blum of the Athletic that Ohtani is not currently facing discipline. A league source tells ESPN that their next step is to “gather facts,” although it’s unclear if they’ll launch an official investigation.

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