April 12, 2024
Trish Arab

The Shohei Ohtani Gambling Saga (1 minute read)

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I've been wanting to write about the Ohtani gambling scandal for a few weeks now since news (and confusion) around the gambling of Ippei Mizuhara, Ohtani's interpreter (and trusted friend), broke out in March. 

Before I had the chance to get a post up, the story thickened, and soon, the hottest player in the MLB was at the center of the scandal, accused of being the actual one responsible for the debts and using his interpreter to place bets on his behalf, and take the blame.

Yesterday, the story changed once more when Federal prosecutors charged Mizuhara with bank fraud, saying he stole more than $16 million from the Los Angeles Dodgers star to pay off his own gambling debts. This move by prosecutors vindicates Ohtani, erasing all blame on the scandal that has been dominating the headlines in the MLB since the season started.

At the news conference, U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada said that a thorough investigation had left no doubt that Mizuhara had "used and abused [his] position of trust to plunder Mr. Ohtani's bank account to the tune of over $16 million."

"I want to emphasize this point," Estrada said. "Mr. Ohtani was a victim in this case."

This no doubt comes as a huge relief for Major League Baseball, for whom Ohtani — who has been both an elite slugger and pitcher throughout his career, earning comparisons to Babe Ruth — is its marquee player and a global icon. 

The Los Angeles Dodgers signed Ohtani to a record-breaking contract in December worth $700 million.

The indictment suggests that much of the confusion that allowed Mizuhara to allegedly scam millions from Ohtani's accounts and then use Ohtani's own people to advance this false story to absolve him was by using his control of the language barrier to manipulate not only Ohtani and his agent, Nez Balelo but also a whole team of advisers and financial managers. 

I will keep following the story and see where, if anywhere, it goes next.