Shohei Ohtani’s interpreter fired amid ‘massive theft’ tied to alleged gambling

Shohei Ohtani

LOS ANGELES — The interpreter for Los Angeles Dodgers superstar Shohei Ohtani was fired on Wednesday for an alleged “massive theft” of funds from the ballplayer’s account to place bets with a bookmaker who is being targeted by federal authorities.

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Ippei Mizuhara, Ohtani’s longtime friend and interpreter, allegedly incurred gambling debts to a Southern California bookmaking operation, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Ohtani, 29, agreed to a 10-year, $700 million contract with the Dodgers in December. The deal made Ohtani the highest-paid player in MLB history.

Attorneys for the outfielder-pitcher claimed the interpreter stole the money after the Times learned that Ohtani’s name had been mentioned in the investigation of bookmaker Mathew Bowyer of Orange County, California. The attorneys said they looked into the matter after the newspaper asked about the probe, according to the newspaper.

A spokesperson for Ohtani originally told ESPN that the two-way star had transferred at least $4.5 million to cover Mizuhara’s gambling debt. Mizuhara explained his side of the story in “great detail,” but as the sports news outlet was about to publish its story, Ohtani’s spokesperson disavowed the interpreter’s account and said the player’s attorneys would release a statement.

According to the Times, the West Hollywood law firm Berk Brettler said in a statement that, “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.”

Mizuhara told ESPN he could not comment on the accusations.

Mizuhara has worked with Ohtani since 2017, according to The Associated Press. When the player left the Los Angeles Angels to sign with the Dodgers, the team hired Mizuhara.

Ohtani and the Dodgers opened the 2024 MLB season in Seoul, South Korea, on Wednesday. It was the first MLB game played in South Korea.

Bowyer has not been charged with a crime, his attorney, Diane Bass, told the Times. Federal agents raided Bowyer’s San Juan Capistrano home last year as part of an investigation.

Bass told the newspaper that Bowyer never had contact with Ohtani.

“Mathew Bowyer never met, spoke with, or texted, or had contact in any way with Shohei Ohtani,” she said.

Bowyer has appeared in numerous court filings over the years, including a $1.75 million judgment against him for defaulting on a line of credit issued to him by Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut, the Times reported.

The wire-transfer payments were sent from Ohtani’s account to an associate of Bowyer’s, ESPN reported, citing “multiple sources” and bank data reviewed by the sports news outlet.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles, which is overseeing the current investigation, did not respond to requests for comment, according to the Times.

Mizuhara was born in Japan but grew up in Southern California, the newspaper reported.

Ohtani, a two-time unanimous American League MVP, left the Angels and moved across town after six seasons.

Ohtani is the first player in baseball history to be named unanimous MVP on multiple occasions, winning this season and in 2021, ESPN reported. He has become baseball’s first two-way star since Babe Ruth pitched and played the outfield more than a century ago.

The native of Japan led the American League in home runs during the 2023 season with 44, according to As a pitcher, the right-hander fashioned a 10-5 record and a 3.14 ERA in 23 appearances.

Due to an arm injury, Ohtani will not pitch for the Dodgers during the 2024 season.

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