The Dodgers Fired Shohei Ohtani’s Friend & Interpreter After He Racked Up $4.5 Million Debt On Sports Betting

Shohei Otani

Just as Shohei Ohtani appears to be on his way to playing winning baseball for the first time in his MLB career with the Los Angeles Dodgers, a massive scandal rocks his life off the field to throw everything out of whack.

The Los Angeles Dodgers superstar who signed a $700 million contract this offseason to liberate himself from oxymoronic Angels purgatory has reportedly been robbed of $4.5 million by his close friend and interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara. According to a lengthy report by ESPN, a spokesman for Ohtani alleges that he wired that money in a series of payments as “loans” to an illegal sports betting operation so that Mizuhara could pay off massive gambling debts.

But the way this saga is being reported on paints a really muddy picture of what the actual hell happened here. ESPN was initially going to run a story about how Ohtani was simply bailing out his friend from the gambling debts. However, the spokesman then claimed that Ohtani was a victim of “massive theft.”

The alleged reason Ohtani wired the money to an associate of SoCal bookie bookmaker Mathew Bowyer is because he didn’t trust Mizuhara with the money. Mizuhara had dug himself such a hole and kept up the vicious cycle of chasing losses since he began betting in 2021 on international soccer. However, since the wire transfers to pay Mizuhara’s debts were coming from Ohtani, Bowyer played up the notion that Ohtani was actually a client who bet on sports. Above all else, Mizuhara wanted to make it clear that he never bet on baseball, and that Ohtani was not involved in betting in any capacity.

Here are the key quotes from Mizuhara that aim to absolve Ohtani of any involvement in his gambling woes other than generous debt bailouts:

“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. […] I’m terrible [at gambling]. Never going to do it again. Never won any money…I mean, 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.”

What’s weird about this report is that there’s no clear indication as to why Ohtani’s camp said that he’s a victim of “massive theft” other than the simple statement. Does that mean the sports betting operation run by Bowyer independently reinvested his debt payments in the business? Or does that mean Mizuhara conspired with Bowyer and his associates to rip Ohtani off in exchange for a cut of the money? I have zero effing clue. It’s all just wild, rampant speculation at this point until a follow-up story drops. I’m sure this isn’t going anywhere any time soon.

Ohtani can’t pun-intended dodge the media circus forever.

Talk about a bummer of a note to send Ohtani into his debut season as a Dodger on. Adding to the gloom for LA, their other big-time offseason acquisition, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, made his MLB debut in South Korea and got tagged for five runs in one inning in the Dodgers’ 15-11 loss to the Padres to fall to 1-1.

Here’s the ESPN broadcast crew talking about the Ohtani-Mizuhara fiasco during Thursday’s game:

All we really know for sure is Mizuhara was involved in some shady sh*t around betting. Lost his job and a good friend. I don’t know that I’ve seen self-sabotage on this scale in the history of professional sports, though. Mizuhara blew the chance to be tied at the hip to Ohtani, the most all-around talented baseball player since Babe Ruth. Although Ohtani is deferring $680 million of his contract until after it expires, it stands to reason Mizuhara would’ve cashed in beyond the wildest dreams of whatever he thought he could achieve as a sports bettor. What a shame.

I’m not going to even go there as far as implicating Ohtani as some Phil Mickelson-esque closet high-rolling gambler whose best bud is taking the fall for him, although you’ll see reactions in that vein all across social media. For a guy who deferred almost all his salary on a 10-year contract, that’d make zero sense. The way the story is being told as of now, it seems pretty clear that Mizuhara got way over his skis, got hooked on betting, and couldn’t stop. That put Ohtani in an awful position, and it ultimately cost Mizuhara the livelihood of a lifetime.

But again, let’s see how this continues to unfold. The full story is far from being told.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock