Ohtani Maintains Innocence In Alleged Sports Betting Scandal

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Major League Baseball superstar Shohei Ohtani asserted his innocence in an alleged sports betting scandal involving the two-way phenom and his former interpreter. 

Ohtani accused his former interpreter Ippei Mizuhara of lying and stealing money in reading a prepared statement Monday.

The Los Angeles Dodgers star said that Mizuhara stole money from his bank account in order to pay off a massive sports betting debt to an illegal bookmaker currently under federal investigation. 

“I’m very saddened and shocked that someone who I trusted has done this,” Ohtani said through a new interpreter. “I never bet on baseball or any other sports or never have asked somebody to do that on my behalf. And I have never went through a bookmaker to bet on sports.” 

Ohtani does not take questions

He did not take questions from reporters after making his statement, leaving more queries unanswered. 

Mizuhara originally said that Ohtani knowingly paid off his former interpreter’s sports betting debts before changing his story. ESPN reported that at least $4.5 million in wire transfers were sent from Ohtani’s bank account to the bookmaker to cover Mizuhara’s sports betting debt. 

The Ohtani case is currently being investigated by the Internal Revenue Service and MLB

How Ohtani says timeline unfolded

Ohtani said he had no knowledge of Mizuhara’s gambling addition and the stolen funds “until a couple days ago.” 

“Ippei has been stealing money from my account and has told lies,” he said. 

The situation began to escalate when reporters reached out to Ohtani’s camp, inquiring about his potential involvement in sports wagering. 

“Ippei never revealed to me that here was this media inquiry, and to the representatives in my camp,” Ohtani said. “Ippei told to the media and representatives that I, on behalf of a friend, paid off debt. Upon further questioning, it was revealed that it was in fact Ippei who was in debt. And (he) told my representatives that I was paying off those debts. And all of this has been a complete lie.” 

Sports betting matter under probe

Ohtani spoke with Mizuhara one-on-one after Mizuhara addressed the Dodgers at a team meeting.

“That was when I found out that he had a massive debt. And it was revealed to me during that meeting that Ippei admitted that he was sending money using my account to a bookmaker,” Ohtani said. “At that moment obviously it was an absurd thing that was happening, and I contacted my representatives at that point.” 

Ohtani’s lawyers recommended that the proper authorities handle the matter given the alleged theft and fraud. 

“I do want to make it clear that I never bet on sports or have willfully sent money to the bookmaker,” Ohtani said.