HomeNewsShohei Ohtani’s Former Interpreter Pleads Guilty to Stealing $17 Million

Shohei Ohtani’s Former Interpreter Pleads Guilty to Stealing $17 Million

After a months long scandal and subsequent investigation, it’s been reported that Shohei Ohtani’s former interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, will plead guilty to stealing over $17 million from the superstar pitcher.

Image: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

As the United States continues down a crossroads between professional sports and the rise of legalized sports betting, there has been plenty of push back from anti-gambling crowds. Most are concerned with the dangerous addictive nature of the activity, but some are also worried about the integrity of sports with the spread of gambling into the mainstream.

Sports Betting Scandals Rock U.S. Professional Sports

Earlier this season, NBA player Jontay Porter of the Toronto Raptors was found guilty of fixing his stats in order to give his accomplices insider information to guarantee they win their bets. Porter did this by manipulating his own player props. For example, the line could have been “Porter over/under 1.5 3-pointers made,” and Porter would have purposely ensured that he wouldn’t have made more than one triple after telling his associates to bet on the under. For his crimes, Porter has received a lifetime ban from the NBA.

Shortly after that story broke and called the ethics of sports betting into question, an investigation discovered that recent Los Angeles Dodgers signee and reigning American League Most Valuable Player Shohei Ohtani was also involved in sports betting. At first, the only news that came out was that there was involvement between Ohtani’s bank account and gambling.

Ohtani Cleared as Mizuhara Confesses

This scandal shook all of baseball, sports, and sports betting. With Porter’s gambling still fresh in the minds of the country, Ohtani, perhaps the biggest star in the MLB, also going down seemed like it could have legitimately ended sports betting in the United States simply due to the magnitude of the player and the potential severity of the details that had yet to be revealed.

Thankfully, it appears that Ohtani’s involvement was only adjacent to Ippei Mizuhara‘s troubles with gambling. It turned out that while Ohtani’s money was involved in CA sports betting, the Dodgers star had no knowledge what it was being used for. Rather, he lent money to Mizuhara, his interpreter and someone he considered a friend.

Their relationship dates back to 2013. Not only did Mizuhara serve as Ohtani’s interpreter, he went on to become his chauffeur, assistant, and even caught pitches for him in the 2021 Home Run Derby. While the two had grown extremely close, it only made Mizuhara’s actions more abhorrent.

Later on, it was discovered that Mizuhara not only lent money from Ohtani to pay off his gambling debts, he also stole from his friend and employer to do so. At first, Ohtani’s legal team suspected that Mizuhara had stolen around $4-5 million, but Mizuhara will plead guilty to thieving over $17 million from Ohtani.

When this scandal first broke, it threatened to overturn the entire sports betting landscape and upend all of the momentum that the industry had built in the last half decade. As it turned out that Ohtani’s involvement was involuntary and that he was actually a victim, it brought pressure off of sports betting overall. Now, Mizuhara’s guilty plea will hopefully bring a quiet end to this blemish in sports and gaming history.