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Ohtani to speak to media for first time since gambling allegations against former interpreter

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Shohei Ohtani will speak with the media for the first time since the illegal gambling allegations surrounding the star's former interpreter emerged during the team's trip to South Korea. 

When is the news conference

KCAL News confirmed Ohtani will be talking around 2:45 p.m. on Monday. He is expected to just give a statement and not answer any questions.

What we know about the gambling allegations

The interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, was fired by the Dodgers last week after the allegations were first made public by Ohtani's legal team. They claim that Mizuhara was involved in the "massive theft" of millions of dollars from Ohtani to pay an illegal bookmaker in Orange County, a story first reported by the Los Angeles Times and ESPN.

Chicago White Sox v Los Angeles Dodgers
Shohei Ohtani (right) and interpreter Ippei Mizuhara (left) during Dodgers Spring Training on Feb. 27, 2024. Getty Images

In a previous statement, Ohtani's attorneys with the firm Berk Brettler LLP said, "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."

While exact monetary terms of the alleged theft have not been made public, ESPN's Tisha Thompson reported that it was around $4.5 million.

Mizuhara told ESPN that Ohtani was aware of the gambling debts, and that while disappointed, he had agreed to pay them off. However, a spokesperson for Ohtani told the Worldwide Leader in Sports that the player was not in fact aware of the gambling. He maintains that he never bet on baseball, primarily focusing on other American sports and international soccer.

Despite the allegations coming to light last week, Ohtani has not yet spoken with the media. The team recently returned stateside from South Korea following the two-game Seoul Series with the San Diego Padres, which they split 1-1. 

Formal investigations launched

In the days since, both Major League Baseball and the Internal Revenue Service have announced formal probes into the matter. The United States Attorney's Office in Los Angeles is also investigating the allegations. They said as of last week that they had no comment on the matter. 

Manager Dave Roberts endorsed Ohtani while speaking with reporters on Sunday. 

"It's the right thing to do," he said. "I'm happy he's going to speak and speak to what he knows and give his thoughts on the whole situation. I think it will give us all a little bit more clarity."

Roberts says that even with the highly-publicized drama, Ohtani has been "business as usual."

Ohtani made only a brief appearance in the Dodgers clubhouse before Sunday's Freeway Series opener against his former team, the Los Angeles Angels. The teams are playing three exhibition games before the Dodgers host the St. Louis Cardinals in their home opener on Thursday.

Mizuhara began working with Ohtani once he joined MLB in 2018 and the pair's relationship has been widely covered by sports media, primarily during his time with the Halos. 

Baltimore Orioles v Los Angeles Angels
Shohei Ohtani (right) and Ippei Mizuhara (left) during their time with the Los Angeles Angels in 2022. Jayne Kamin-Oncea / Getty Images

Mizuhara's past, prior to his partnership with Ohtani, has been called into question in recent days. The Athletic's Sam Blum reported that despite claims that Mizuhara attended UC Riverside, the school has no records that he ever attended or graduated. 

"Our university records do not show a student by the name of Ippei Mizuhara having attended UC Riverside," said a statement from the school. 

On top of that, the Boston Red Sox, with whom Mizuhara got his first MLB opportunity, issued a statement to publicly note he was never employed by the team, despite several news reports and the Angels media guide stating so. 

"We are reaching out to all of you because of reports in various outlets stating that Ippei Mizuhara worked for the Red Sox as an interpreter, which is incorrect," said the statement. "Mizuhara was never employed by the Boston Red Sox in any capacity and was not an interpreter for Hideki Okajima during the pitcher's time with the team. Please know that we have thoroughly checked our files to ensure we are providing accurate information."

The alleged gambling organization and bookmaker, Matthew Bowyer, are under federal investigation in a case that also includes former Dodger Yasiel Puig, who faces multiple charges. 

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