Skip to content

Ohtani's interpreter accused of 'massive theft' for gambling

MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images / MediaNews Group / Getty

Shohei Ohtani's interpreter Ippei Mizuhara is being accused of stealing money from the Los Angeles Dodgers superstar to place bets with a bookmaker who's under investigation by the federal government, according to Gustavo Arellano, Nathan Fenno, Adam Elmahrek, and Paul Pringle of the Los Angeles Times.

The Dodgers fired Mizuhara on Wednesday. He had been in the dugout for their season-opening game in Seoul, South Korea, earlier in the day.

"The Dodgers are aware of media reports and are gathering information. The team can confirm that interpreter Ippei Mizuhara has been terminated," the club said in a statement obtained by The Athletic's Fabian Ardaya. "The team has no further comment at this time."

Ohtani isn't being investigated or facing any discipline at this point in time, according to Ardaya.

A spokesperson for Ohtani originally told ESPN's Tisha Thompson that the two-time MVP had transfered money to Mizuhara to cover his gambling debt, which Mizuhara confirmed in a separate interview with ESPN. Mizuhara's debts reached at least $4.5 million, sources told Thompson. Wire transfers totalling at least that much money were apparently sent from Ohtani's bank account to a bookmaker, Thompson reports.

However, Ohtani's camp refuted Mizuhara's statements Wednesday before his lawyers issued their own statement alleging "massive theft," according to Thompson.

"In the course of responding to recent media inquiries, we discovered that Shohei has been the victim of a massive theft and we are turning the matter over to the authorities," the law firm Berk Brettler of West Hollywood, California, said in a statement obtained by both the Times and ESPN.

On Tuesday, Mizuhara told ESPN that Ohtani "said he would help me out to make sure I never do this again. He decided to pay it off for me." He added that Ohtani "had zero involvement in betting."

The next day, however, Mizuhara told ESPN that Ohtani was unaware of his debts and had not transfered any money.

"Obviously, this is all my fault, everything I've done," he said, per Thompson. "I'm ready to face all the consequences."

The interpreter said he wagered on a variety of sports, including the NBA and college football, but "never bet on baseball," according to Thompson.

"I knew that rule ... We have a meeting about it in spring training," Mizuhara added.

Mizuhara apparently came to the attention of Ohtani's representatives after the Times discovered the superstar's name had surfaced in the investigation of Matthew Bowyer, an alleged illegal bookmaker in Orange County, California. Lawyers are alleging that Mizuhara used the money he apparently stole from Ohtani to place bets with Bowyer, who has yet to be charged with a crime.

Bowyer's lawyer, Diane Bass, told the Times that her client has never "had contact in any way with Shohei Ohtani."

Major League Baseball has not been contacted by authorities, a league spokesman told the Times. The league was unaware of the story until it was contacted by ESPN for comment, according to Thompson.

Mizuhara served as Ohtani's interpreter during his six seasons with the Los Angeles Angels and followed the two-way star to the Dodgers. The pair were also friends away from the ballpark.

Ohtani signed a record 10-year, $700-million contract with the Dodgers in December.

Daily Newsletter

Get the latest trending sports news daily in your inbox