Ippei Mizuhara Dismissed from Team for Illegal Gambling; Lawyer Warns Shohei Ohtani Could Face Similar Investigation as Worst Case Scenario | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Ippei Mizuhara Dismissed from Team for Illegal Gambling; Lawyer Warns Shohei Ohtani Could Face Similar Investigation as Worst Case Scenario

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Mizuhara (left) lost the trust of fans as well as Otani

Ippei Mizuhara (39), who served as an interpreter for Los Angeles Dodgers’ Shohei Ohtani (29), was fired by the Dodgers on March 20th. The shocking news has been reported by many media outlets in the United States, but the Los Angeles Times reporter who got the scoop tells us the background.

Gustavo Arellano, who covered the story of Mizuhara’s alleged grand theft of Ohtani’s money, appeared on local TV station “FOX11 Los Angeles” to discuss how the story came to be reported.


According to Arellano, an investigation into illegal gambling based in Southern California had been underway for years. As he proceeded with his interview, he learned that the name of Shohei Ohtani had surfaced as one of the people involved in illegal gambling.

When I asked Otani’s representative about this, I received a reply saying, “We will conduct our own investigation and make a press announcement.” At the same time, I heard from other sources that Mr. Mizuhara would give an explanation directly, and it was decided that the Dodgers would make the announcement.

In the United States, sports betting is legal in 38 states, but in California it is illegal and prohibited in the state. The operator of the illegal sports betting hall who dealt with Mr. Mizuhara this time was Matthew Bowyer. A resident of Orange County, California, where the Angels are located, he was raided by the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) last October, and the investigation is still ongoing.

He retracted his statement the next day.


Mizuhara, who will be fired by the Dodgers on March 20 for stealing Ohtani’s funds, gave details in a 90-minute interview with the sports network ESPN on March 19.

According to ESPN, Mizuhara met Bowyer in San Diego in ’21 and began betting on U.S. professional sports such as the NBA and NFL, as well as foreign soccer and college football games. However, in one year, he lost $1 million, which increased like a snowball phenomenon, resulting in a debt of at least $4.5 million (approximately 675 million yen).

When Ohtani discussed the debt with him, he was obviously disappointed, but after making him promise not to gamble anymore, he offered to shoulder the repayment and allegedly sent money to Mr. Bowyer’s side over a period of several months via his own computer to pay off the debt. As to why he did not give the money directly to Mr. Mizuhara, Mr. Mizuhara said, “I didn’t want him to use the money for gambling, and I didn’t trust him with the money. He also stated that he did not know that his bets were illegal.

Mizuhara’s shocking confession changed on the 20th, one night later. When ESPN asked Ohtani whether he was involved in the repayment of the money, he released a statement through his lawyer saying that Ohtani was a victim of grand theft. Mizuhara also retracted what he had said in an interview the day before, stating, “Ohtani has no knowledge of the gambling or repayment. It was all done by me,” he stated.

Then, after the opening game in Korea on March 20, Mizuhara explained the situation to the players and upper management of the baseball team and apologized for his gambling addiction. When Ohtani heard this, he understood for the first time what was happening and began asking questions.



Suddenly, after reversing himself, Mizuhara was fired by the Dodgers. According to ESPN, Ohtani’s agent asked authorities to investigate Mizuhara’s grand theft. The truth remains elusive, but this may not be the end of the story, according to a U.S. based lawyer.

If Ohtani did not know anything about this, it begs the question of how Mizuhara was able to transfer such a large sum of money from Ohtani’s bank account, said a U.S.-based lawyer. The FBI should have already seized the documentary evidence of the money being transferred in the name of Ohtani’s account. If he knew about the illegal gambling and helped repay the money, in the worst case scenario, Ohtani would have to become a target of the investigation.

Ohtani had a strong relationship of trust with Mr. Mizuhara, whom he had known since his days at Nippon-Ham, and occasionally referred to him as a person who really helped me. Mr. Mizuhara succumbed to the temptation of gambling and destroyed his trust.

  • Interview and text by Masayoshi Katayama (journalist) Masayoshi Katayama (Journalist) PHOTO Naoki Nishimura/Sports Afro

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