Shohei Ohtani opens up on bombshell interpreter scandal and betting allegations

Los Angeles, Caifornia - Los Angeles Dodgers superstar Shohei Ohtani said Monday he had never bet on baseball or other sports, declaring himself "saddened and shocked" after his interpreter was accused of stealing from his bank account to pay off millions of dollars in gambling debts.

The Los Angeles Dodgers' Shohei Ohtani denied he had any knowledge of his interpreter's gambling debts, which the latter allegedly tried to pay off with the star's money.
The Los Angeles Dodgers' Shohei Ohtani denied he had any knowledge of his interpreter's gambling debts, which the latter allegedly tried to pay off with the star's money.  © USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Connect

In his first public comments on the scandal that erupted last week and led to the firing of his long-time friend and translator Ippei Mizuhara, Ohtani emphasized he had been the victim of a theft and that he had no knowledge of Mizuhara's gambling problems before last week.

"I never bet on baseball or any other sports and I never have asked somebody to do that on my behalf and I have never went through a bookmaker to bet on sports," Japanese ace Ohtani said through a translator.

Ohtani, the biggest star in baseball, joined the Dodgers last December in a record-breaking $700 million deal.

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He said an interview Mizuhara gave to ESPN last Tuesday before the scandal broke, in which his translator said the star had knowingly wired money to a California bookmaker to pay off the interpreter's gambling debts, was "a complete lie."

"Obviously I never agreed to pay off this debt or make payments to the bookmakers," the 29-year-old told reporters at Dodger Stadium.

"All of this has been a complete lie... Until a couple of days ago, I didn't know this was happening... Ippei has stolen money from my account and told lies."

"I'm very saddened and shocked that someone who I trusted has done this," Ohtani said of the allegations.

Ohtani "beyond shocked" by alleged betrayal

Ohtani and Ippei Mizuhara have been long-time friends and worked together throughout the 29-year-old's time in MLB.
Ohtani and Ippei Mizuhara have been long-time friends and worked together throughout the 29-year-old's time in MLB.  © Michael Reaves / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

Ohtani, who appeared calm and composed throughout his remarks, did not take questions from reporters and did not immediately explain how Mizuhara had been able to access his bank account to steal the reported $4.5 million.

With Dodgers manager Dave Roberts and team president Andrew Friedman looking on, Ohtani said the first time he became aware of Mizuhara's gambling problem was when the interpreter addressed the Dodgers locker room after their win over the Padres in South Korea last Wednesday.

"During the team meeting, Ippei was speaking English but I didn't have a translator by my side," Ohtani said. "But I kind of understood what was going on and started to feel there was something amiss."

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The two men had a one-to-one meeting at the team hotel after addressing the locker room, in which Mizuhara allegedly admitted he had been raiding Ohtani's bank account without his knowledge to settle gambling debts.

"It was revealed to me during that meeting, Ippei admitted he was sending money using my account to the bookmaker," Ohtani said.

"To summarize how I'm feeling right now: I'm just beyond shocked. It's really hard to verbalize how I'm feeling at this point."

MLB on Friday announced it had launched a formal investigation into the allegations which have rocked the sport as it gears up for the new season.

"I'm going to let my lawyers handle this from here on out and I am completely assisting in all investigations that are taking place right now," Ohtani said on Monday.

Cover photo: Collage: Michael Reaves / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP & USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Connect

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