LA Dodgers Fire Shohei Ohtani Interpreter After MLB Star’s Allegations of ‘Massive’ $4.5 Million Theft

“I dug myself a hole and it kept on getting bigger,” Ippei Mizuhara said of his gambling debts

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Dodgers fired Shohei Ohtani’s interpreter on Wednesday.

Ippei Mizuhara is accused of wiring millions — at least $4.5 million — from the pitcher’s account to bookmaker Mathew Bowyer, who is now under federal investigation.

The transfer came into question after reporters raised questions about the payment to Ohtani’s team. ESPN reported that a spokesperson for Ohtani said the baseball star transferred the money to cover Mizuhara’s outstanding debt, and Mizuhara himself gave a 90-minute interview on the network Tuesday night. On Wednesday, the same spokesperson then retracted Mizuhara’s story.

The law firm Berk Brettler LLP issued a statement, explaining, “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.”

Though federal investigators are currently scrutinizing Bowyer and his business dealings, his attorney Diane Bass stressed to the Los Angeles Times that her client has not been charged with a crime.

ESPN also reported the wire transfer payments in question were sent from Ohtani’s account to “an associate of Bowyer’s.” Sports betting is illegal in California, where government-approved sportsbooks require their customers to pay up front. Only illegal bookmakers will accept bets on credit. Bowyer is said to have allowed other customers to believe Ohtani was a client of his.

In the Tuesday night interview, Mizuhara admitted he had asked Ohtani to pay off his enormous debt. He told ESPN, “Obviously, he [Ohtani] wasn’t happy about it and said he would help me out to make sure I never do this again. He decided to pay it off for me.”

“I want everyone to know Shohei had zero involvement in betting. I want people to know I did not know this was illegal. I learned my lesson the hard way. I will never do sports betting ever again,” the interpreter added. “I dug myself a hole and it kept on getting bigger, and it meant I had to bet bigger to get out of it and just kept on losing. It’s like a snowball effect.”

The next day, Mizuhara admitted Ohtani did not know about his debt and that the designated hitter had not transferred the money himself.

Mizuhara and Ohtani had worked together since the latter moved to the United States in 2017. Mizuhara worked with the Los Angeles Angels when Ohtani played there and moved to the Dodgers after Ohtani signed his 10-year, $700 million contract in December.

While authorities became aware of the payments as part of the federal investigation, Major League Baseball was not made aware of the issue until ESPN introduced it to the public. The league’s gambling policy prohibits “any player, umpire, or Club or League official or employee” from betting on a game or making illegal bets on other sports.

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