HomeTrending MLB NewsOhtani's statement raises as many questions as it answers

Ohtani’s statement raises as many questions as it answers

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Last Wednesday, ESPN’s Tisha Thompson wrote a bombshell report revealing that one of Ohtani’s bank accounts was used in connection with an illegal betting operation in California. 

A spokesman for Ohtani initially told Thompson that the Dodgers slugger “had transferred funds to cover Mizuhara’s gambling debt,” but that was later backtracked in a statement by Ohtani’s lawyers declaring Mizuhara stole from Ohtani.

“It’s been a tough week,” began Ohtani’s prepared statement he read on Monday. He emphasized that he “never bet on sports” and had no knowledge of what Mizuhara was doing.

“Ippei stole money and told lies,” said Ohtani via an interpreter.

In ESPN’s initial report, Mizuhara told the network he asked Ohtani to pay off his debt last year, and he agreed. However, after Ohtani’s lawyers denied that claim, Mizuhara told ESPN that Ohtani didn’t know about the money transfers. 

Sports betting is illegal in California, and while MLB allows its players to bet on sports other than baseball, it forbids players from using offshore or illegal sportsbooks to make wagers.

Mizuhara has never alleged Ohtani placed bets, but it certainly looks bad for a bank account with his name on it to show up in a federal investigation into an illegal betting operation.

A lawyer for Matthew Boyer, the man at the center of the federal investigation, told Thompson that their client “never met or spoke with Shohei Ohtani.”

Ohtani’s statement on Monday didn’t tell us anything new. It’s not exactly surprising that he denied knowledge of the transactions. His lawyers had already said that he was a victim of a “massive theft.”

But it’s disappointing that Ohtani declined to answer any questions. Why weren’t any red flags raised about large sums of money going missing from his bank account? 

If they were noticed, how did Mizuhara explain it? And how was he able to access Ohtani’s account? 

Until those are answered, while indications so far are that Ohtani is the victim, he’ll be the one on trial in the court of public opinion.

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