The Day the Tax Office Came to the Home of a “Popular Comedian” Who Won Over 93 Million Yen in Million Tickets
Interview with Jai of Instant Johnson
Gambling is often referred to as “the epitome of life. While some comedians, such as SHIMOFURI MYOJO’s “Mr. Minus 200 Million Yen in Lifetime Income and Expenses,” continue to gamble until they are in debt and use it as a source of entertainment, there are also comedians who win big and attract attention.
In August this year, Jai, 50, of the comedy trio Instant Johnson, won a million-yen bet of 93.7 million yen in the “Win5,” in which the winner of five consecutive races is predicted, and he won a huge sum of money with 120,000 yen.
Known as one of the most popular “anapartisans” in the entertainment industry, Jai’s saga is so saga that he dominates the top ranking of celebrity horse race payouts.
He has hit tens of millions of yen in a row, including the aforementioned 93 million yen-plus, 37 million yen in December ’12, 43 million yen in January ’14, and 64 million yen in December ’20. On his YouTube channel, which he launched in October 2008, he has frequently shown videos in which he has hit on horse tickets worth several million to tens of millions of yen.
However, in June of this year, Jai revealed that he was in debt for the first time in his nearly 30 years of gambling. He was charged tens of millions of yen in additional taxes. The story goes back to the fall of 2009.
Two men in suits suddenly came to our house. When I looked who they were, they were employees of the tax office, and they said, ‘Let us check your house. Their cell phones were disconnected, so they went directly to my house. Well, I had nothing to hide, and I had paid taxes on my horse racing profits, so they searched my house and took my bank books and past documents.
Then, in the spring of this year, I received an additional tax bill in the tens of millions of yen. The amount was roughly equivalent to buying a condominium. For the past five years or so, I had been claiming the missing tickets as expenses, but that was eventually disallowed and I had to pay additional taxes (due to the reduced deductions). Since the monthly interest charges were also outrageous, I decided to pay them off all at once, so I temporarily borrowed money from my parents and my wife.
It was a mystery to me why the tax office came at this time, but when they were checking my house, the tax office official said, ‘I’m subscribed to your YouTube channel. They must have found out that I was making money from it, and they must have taken a guess.”
Ironically, because he had won so much money, he was subjected to a tax audit. His partner even contacted Jai to ask him to spend some of the money.
However, only a few months after the debt, Jai paid off the debt with the aforementioned refund of 93 million yen. Even during the time he was in debt, he continued to raise money for his war chest and continued to race horses, and as a result, he succeeded in paying off his debts through horse racing.
It was tough on my relatives, but to be honest, it was no big deal that I had to pay a large amount of taxes, and my enthusiasm for horse racing itself didn’t change at all. As for myself, I’m betting the money properly and if I know the total is going to be positive, I’ll keep attacking it.
When I won 93 million yen and paid off my debt, fans responded, “That’s a big turnaround! But I thought I could turn it around sooner or later, so I didn’t get too emotional about it. …… Basically, I don’t have that kind of joy, anger, sadness, or happiness. When I won 93 million yen, the degree of my joy was not that different from when I won 1 million yen.
He says he is not too attached to gains and losses, but he continues that this attitude is also “a technique I learned to win at gambling.
There are many people who are too fixated on gains and losses, or who are happy or sad when they win or lose, but most people like that are not suited to gambling. I believe that most of the reasons for losing at gambling are feelings and greed, such as ‘I want to win and make money’ or ‘I want to make up for my losses.
I am basically a positive thinker, and even when I have a hard time, I don’t simply see it as misfortune; I try to think that things will turn around eventually. It doesn’t matter if I lose at one point or get taxed, as long as I win in the end. Through gambling, I have grown mentally by not taking things in dots, or rather, by being able to look at things from a bird’s eye view.
He says he will continue to pay taxes and continue to race horses. He says he has “nothing special” to do with the money he makes from horse racing. …… What is the reason for his commitment to gambling?
He says, “I do it simply because I want to gamble, and horse racing is fun to watch because of its sporting aspect. Even if they continue to take a large amount of tax money, I want to spread the word more that ‘horse racing is a wonderful thing.
I don’t want to use the money I make to go to a club in Ginza, or win a ticket worth over 100 million dollars, or anything like that. My goal is just to live a normal life with my family and have a laugh. Of course, I don’t support my family with the money I earn from gambling, and my salary is still enough to live on.
I do a lot of horse racing work now, but I just go with the flow, because my day job is as a comedian. I want to continue to be a comedian. I am much happier when I am a hit at the theater than when I win 93 million yen on a horse ticket, and that will never change.
Jai will continue to live his life, “Gambling all my life, being a comedian all my life.
Interview and text by： Hayahide Sato
Born in 1995. After graduating from university, he worked for a horse racing-related editorial department before becoming a freelance journalist around 2021. Hobbies include drinking, horse racing, and reading.