Home News Never bet on sports, interpreter stole & lied

Never bet on sports, interpreter stole & lied

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By GREG BEACHAM | AP Sports Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Shohei Ohtani said Monday he never bet on sports or knowingly paid any gambling debts accumulated by his longtime interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara.

Instead, the Los Angeles Dodgers star claims his close friend lied to him for years and stole millions from the two-time MVP.

Ohtani gave his version of events during a news conference at Dodger Stadium, five days after Mizuhara was fired by the Dodgers following reports from the Los Angeles Times and ESPN about his alleged ties to an illegal bookmaker and debts well over $1 million.

“I am very saddened and shocked someone whom I trusted has done this,” the Japanese star said while sitting next to Will Ireton, the team’s manager of performance operations, who translated.

“Ippei has been stealing money from my account and has been telling lies,” Ohtani said. “I never bet on sports or have willfully sent money to the bookmaker.”

Ohtani spoke for nearly 12 minutes in a small room packed with dozens of reporters, describing several ways in which Mizuhara deceived him. Wearing a Dodgers cap and sweatshirt, Ohtani read quickly in Japanese from a document and did not take questions.

Ohtani still attempted to answer the most important question by repeatedly emphasizing he was never knowingly involved in gambling. He provided no details on how Mizuhara might have been able to steal his money to pay gambling debts.

“I never bet on baseball or any other sports or never have asked somebody to do it on my behalf, and I have never gone through a bookmaker to bet on sports. and was never asked to assist betting payment for anyone else,” Ohtani said.

Ohtani left the Los Angeles Angels in December to sign a record $700 million, 10-year contract with the Dodgers. Ohtani and Mizuhara had been daily companions since Ohtani joined the Angels in 2018 until last week, when Mizuhara’s gambling became public.

The IRS has confirmed that Mizuhara and Mathew Bowyer, the alleged illegal bookmaker, are under criminal investigation through the agency’s Los Angeles Field Office.

Mizuhara told ESPN on March 19 that Ohtani paid his gambling debts at the interpreter’s request, saying the bets were on international soccer, the NBA, the NFL and college football. MLB rules prohibit players and team employees from wagering — even legally — on baseball, and also ban betting on other sports with illegal or offshore bookmakers.

ESPN said Mizuhara changed his story the following day, claiming Ohtani had no knowledge of the gambling debts and had not transferred any money to bookmakers.

“All of this has been a complete lie,” Ohtani said. “Ippei obviously basically didn’t tell me about the media inquiry. So Ippei has been telling everyone around that he has been communicating with me on this account to the media and my team, and that hasn’t been true.”

Ohtani said he first became aware of Mizuhara’s gambling problem during a team meeting after last Wednesday’s season-opening victory over San Diego in Seoul, South Korea.



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