“All of this has been a complete lie,” Shohei Ohtani speaks to the press for the first time about the Ippei Mizuhara investigation

Photo credit:Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Liu
23 days ago
What a ride this week has been for Shohei Ohtani.
Since the bombshell about Ippei Mizuhara’s gambling debt dropped, it’s been a whirlwind surrounding the Japanese superstar. Yesterday was the first time Ohtani spoke out about the situation, in a 12-minute press conference with no questions allowed.
After thanking the media and fans, Ohtani opened by saying that he had never bet on baseball, much less through an illegal bookie. “I never bet on baseball or any other sports or never have asked somebody to do that on my behalf,” he said. “And I have never went through a bookmaker to bet on sports. Up until a couple of days ago, I didn’t know that this was happening.”
He didn’t pull any punches either. “Just to kind of go over the result, in conclusion, Ippei has been stealing money from my account and has told lies.”
Ohtani also shed some light on the timeline of how the entire situation played out, as the Los Angeles Dodgers were in Seoul playing the San Diego Padres. “Last weekend in Korea, media had reached out to a representative in my camp inquiring about my potential involvement in sports betting,” he said. “Ippei never revealed to me that there was this media inquiry, and to the representatives in my camp he told, Ippei told, to the media and to my representatives that I, on behalf of a friend, paid off debt.”
Mizuhara went on the record in an interview with ESPN and claimed that Ohtani had sent money to an illegal bookmaker to cover Mizuhara’s debt, with a reported sum of at least $4.5 million. Mizuhara later backtracked and said Ohtani did not know of his gambling debts.
Prior to the opening game of the series, Mizuhara had approached Ohtani and asked to speak to him after the game. “I was told by Ippei, ‘Hey, let’s talk one-to-one in the hotel after the meeting.’ So, I waited until then,” Ohtani recalled.
Then, after the Dodgers win, Mizuhara spoke to the clubhouse, getting confusion from Ohtani. “The first time I knew about this gambling, Ippei’s gambling, was after the first game (in Korea) when we had the team meeting in the clubhouse,” he said. “During the team meeting, obviously, Ippei was speaking in English and I didn’t have a translator on my side. But even with that, I kind of understood what was going on and started to feel that there was something amiss.”
“Up until that team meeting, I didn’t know that Ippei had a gambling addiction and was in debt. Obviously, I never agreed to pay off the debt or make payments to the bookmaker.”
After talking with Mizuhara in the hotel room and having him admit that he was indeed transferring money to the bookmaker from Ohtani’s account, the Japanese star reached out to his representation with questions about the entire situation.
When I was finally able to talk to my representatives, that’s when my representatives found out that Ippei had been lying the whole time, and that’s when I started contacting the Dodgers and my lawyers,” Ohtani said. “The Dodgers and the lawyers at that moment also found out that they had been lied to. My lawyers recommended that since this is theft and fraud, we have the proper authorities handle this matter.”
Ohtani once again reiterated that he had never bet on baseball or had sent money to a bookmaker of his own volition.
“To summarize how I’m feeling right now, I’m just beyond shocked. It’s really hard to verbalize how I am feeling at this point,” Ohtani said as he wrapped up. “The season is going to start so I’m going to obviously let my lawyers handle matters from here on out, and I am completely assisting in all investigations that are taking place right now.”
“I’m looking forward to focusing on the season. I’m glad that we had this opportunity to talk, and I’m sure there will be continuing investigations moving forward.”
Major League Baseball announced on Friday that they had begun the formal investigation process on this matter.


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