Shohei Ohtani Reads Statement In Relation To Former Translator

Shohei Ohtani Reads Statement In Relation To Former Translator


Star two-way player Shohei Ohtani of the Dodgers read a statement today in relation to Ippei Mizuhara, his former translator and friend. Mizuhara was fired last week amid his involvement with an illegal sports gambling operation.

Ohtani read the statement in Japanese, which was translated into English by Will Ireton, for a period of about 12 minutes. Video of the full thing was relayed by Talkin’ Baseball on X. Chad Jennings of The Athletic transcribed all of Ohtani’s comments, as translated into English by Ireton.

Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic was among those to relay a few days ago that Ireton would be serving as a translator for Ohtani in the wake of Mizuhara’s departure. Ireton served as Kenta Maeda’s translator when he was with the Dodgers and Ireton stayed an employee of the club after Maeda was traded to the Twins in 2020.

Reporting last week highlighted that over $4.5MM had been wired from an account in Ohtani’s name to the gambling ring. Mizuhara said that he racked up that debt by betting on sports other than baseball, then Ohtani wired the money to help him pay it off. Later, Ohtani’s attorneys contradicted the story, saying that Ohtani “had been the victim of a massive theft.” Ohtani’s version of events that he relayed today aligned with the theft story, accusing Mizuhara of using his account to wire the money and then lying about it.

Ohtani said that he was “saddened and shocked that someone who I trusted has done this.” Ohtani stated that he has never bet on baseball or any other sports and has never gone through a bookmaker to bet on sports. “Up until a couple days ago, I didn’t know this was happening.” He also flatly denied the original version of events, wherein he supposedly sent the money to help his friend Mizuhara. “Ippei has been stealing money from my account and has told lies.”

The Dodgers were in Korea last week to play the Padres as part of the Seoul Series as the initial reporting on the story was coming to light. Ohtani stated today that the media in Korea inquired about the story but Ippei never told him about the media inquiry. Ippei then told the media and Ohtani’s representatives the version of events that involved Ohtani paying off the debt. “All of this has been a complete lie,” Ohtani said.

Ohtani says he first found out about Mizuhara’s gambling after the first game of the Seoul Series, when there was a team meeting in the clubhouse. “During the team meeting, obviously, Ippei was speaking English and I didn’t have a translator on my side. But even with that, I kind of understood what was going on and started to feel that there was something amiss.” Ohtani then states that he did not know until that meeting about Mizuhara’s gambling addiction or his debt. “Obviously, I never agreed to pay off the debt or make payments to the bookmaker.”

Ohtani then states that he and Mizuhara met one-on-one in a hotel room after the team meeting. “Ippei admitted that he was sending money, using my account, to the bookmaker.” Ohtani states he contacted his representatives at that point. “When I was finally able to talk to my representatives, that’s when my representatives found out that Ippei has been lying the whole time and that’s when I started contacting the Dodgers and my lawyers.” Ohtani states that his representatives and the Dodgers found out at that point that they were being lied to.

“My lawyers recommended that, since this is theft and fraud, that we have the proper authorities handle this matter.” He concluded by saying that “The season’s going to start so I’m obviously going to let my lawyers handle matters from here on out and I am completely assisting in all investigations that are taking place right now. I’m looking forward to focusing on the season. I’m glad that we had this opportunity to talk and I’m sure there will be continuing investigations moving forward. Thank you very much.”

On Friday, MLB announced that it its department of investigations formally began the process of investigating the matter. This is a developing story that will be updated as more information comes to light.


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