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Shohei Ohtani holds first news conference on gambling allegations against interpreter

Shohei Ohtani addresses gambling allegations against his former interpreter
Shohei Ohtani addresses gambling allegations against his former interpreter 06:46

Los Angeles Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani addressed the media on Monday afternoon for the first time since the team fired his interpreter Ippei Mizuhara amid gambling allegations. 

"I am very sad and shocked that someone who I trusted has done this," Ohtani said through an interpreter. 

He vehemently denied agreeing to pay off Mizuhara's gambling debt and betting on baseball or any other sports. 

"I never bet on baseball or any sports or never have asked somebody to do it on my behalf," Ohtani said. "I have never went through a bookmaker to bet on sports."

Shohei Ohtani vehemently denied that he agreed to pay off his former interpreter, Ippei Mizuhura's, gambling debt. KCAL News

Major League Baseball opened a formal investigation after the Dodgers fired Mizuhara amid the allegations. The interpreter is accused of stealing at least $4.5 million from Ohtani's personal bank account. Mizuhara had worked as Ohtani's interpreter since 2017, before Ohtani joined the Los Angeles Angels, his first team in the MLB. Mizuhara's relationship with the two-way star has been well documented during Ohtani's tenure with the Angels, with whom he played for six seasons before signing a 10-year, $700 million mega-deal with the Dodgers. 

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 ESPN that the player was not in fact aware of the gambling.

"Ippei has been stealing money from my accounts and has been telling lies," Ohtani said. 

The story first broke last Wednesday when the Dodgers fired Mizuhara while the team was in Seoul, South Korea, for the season-opening series against the San Diego Padres. Ohtani said he learned about the gambling after the first game of the two-game series.

Ohtani said the Dodgers held a meeting in the clubhouse when Mizuhara addressed the entire team. Since Mizuhara spoke in English, Ohtani said he did not understand the entire speech but felt something was "amiss." Afterward, the pair had a one-on-one meeting in the hotel. 

"Up until that meeting, I did not know Ippei had a gambling addiction and was in debt," he said. "Obviously, at that point I never agreed to pay off the debt or make payments to the bookmaker."

According to Ohtani, during the meeting, Mizuhara admitted to using the player's account to pay off the bookmaker. 

Ohtani said he contacted his representatives after. 

"My lawyers recommended that since this is theft and fraud that we have the proper authorities handle this matter," he said. 

Ohtani added that he will let his lawyers handle the matter but will assist "in all investigations" that are taking place right now."

In addition to the internal investigation by the MLB, the Internal Revenue Service and the United States Attorney's Office in Los Angeles launched probes into the allegations. The federal organizations said they had no comment on the matter.

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. 

"I'm looking forward to focusing on the season," he said. "I'm glad we had this opportunity to talk, and I'm sure there'll be continuing investigations moving forward."

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