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Shohei Ohtani Pleads Ignorance Amid Interpreter’s Gambling Scandal

Reuters/Mark J. Rebilas
Reuters/Mark J. Rebilas

MLB superstar Shohei Ohtani said Monday he was unaware of the illicit gambling habit of his longtime interpreter in a statement to reporters, emphasizing that he has personally “never bet on baseball or any other sports.”

The statement, which was read to reporters who weren’t permitted to ask questions, came on the heels of a bizarre five-day span where his interpreter and former friend, Ippei Mizuhara, was accused by Ohtani of stealing as much as $4.5 million from him—largely to satisfy mounting gambling debts.

“I’m very saddened and shocked that someone who I trusted has done this,” Ohtani said, adding, “Up until a couple days ago, I didn’t know this was happening. Ippei has been stealing money from my account, and has told lies.”

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Now Major League Baseball Is Investigating Shohei Ohtani

Ippei has denied stealing from Ohtani, who signed a massive, $700 million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers this offseason.

Ohtani said Monday that he had no clue his ex-confidant, who at one point had access to his bank account, had a gambling problem.

He claimed to have learned of Ippei’s alleged addiction just last week during a team meeting, hours before it made international news.

Ohtani’s handlers originally told ESPN that the slugger had given Ippei money to pay down his debts—but quickly changed their tune, claiming that Ohtani had been the victim of a “massive theft.”

Ohtani said Monday that he “never agreed to pay off the debt or make payments to the bookmaker,” adding that the notion he’d cover his interpreter’s debt was “absurd.”

“I’m beyond shocked,” he said. “It’s really hard to verbalize how I am feeling at this point.”

Major League Baseball launched a formal investigation into the matter last week—though it appears no parallel criminal investigation has yet been launched by local or federal authorities.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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