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Shohei Ohtani Denies Gambling Allegations Involving Longtime Interpreter

Shohei Ohtani, the star designated hitter for the Los Angeles Dodgers, took to the podium at Dodger Stadium to directly address the swirling controversy surrounding gambling allegations linked to his longtime interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara.

Seated calmly, Ohtani, flanked by interpreter Will Ireton, opened up about the situation in a 12-minute press conference devoid of questions from the press corps, which numbered over 70 attendees.

“I’ve never bet on baseball or any other sports or asked someone to do it on my behalf,” Ohtani asserted. “I’ve never asked a bookmaker to do it on my behalf. Up until a few days ago, I didn’t know this was happening. In conclusion, Ippei has been stealing money from my account and has told lies.”

The scandal erupted when reports emerged from South Korea, alleging that Ohtani had wired funds to cover Mizuhara’s gambling debts, totaling at least $4.5 million. Mizuhara initially made these claims to ESPN but later recanted, stating that Ohtani was unaware of his gambling issues.

Ohtani recounted a tense encounter with Mizuhara before a game against the Padres, during which Mizuhara requested a private discussion afterward. Following the game, Mizuhara addressed the Dodgers, revealing his gambling debts and implicating Ohtani in financial transactions to settle them.

“Up until that team meeting, I didn’t even know Ippei had a gambling addiction and was in debt,” Ohtani clarified. “I never agreed to pay off the debt or make payments to the bookmaker.”

After a private conversation with Mizuhara, Ohtani discovered that his interpreter had accessed his bank account and made transactions without his knowledge. This revelation prompted Ohtani to seek legal counsel and involve the Dodgers and MLB.

“I’m just beyond shocked. It’s really hard to verbalize how I am feeling at this point,” Ohtani expressed. “I’m going to let my lawyers handle matters from here on out. I’m looking forward to focusing on the season.”

Amidst escalating scrutiny, Major League Baseball announced its formal investigation into the matter on Friday, underscoring the gravity of the allegations and the potential implications for both Ohtani and Mizuhara.