Shohei Ohtani: I never bet on sports or sent money to bookmaker

Los Angeles Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani is doubling down on his attorneys’ claim that he is a victim of theft.

The news comes as Ohtani read a prepared statement Monday afternoon – without longtime interpreter and now-former friend Ippei Mizuhara by his side. Ohtani said he has never bet on baseball or any sporting event.

Last week, bombshell reports from the Los Angeles Times and ESPN linked Mizuhara to what Ohtani’s attorneys called a "massive theft" linked to illegal sports betting.

"I have never bet on sports or willfully sent money to the bookmaker," Ohtani said, through interim Dodgers interpreter Will Ireton.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Timeline of the Shohei Ohtani-Ippei Mizuhara fallout

In the ESPN report from last week, Mizuhara had agreed to do a 90-minute interview with the network to share his side of the story – with Ohtani’s reps apparently arranging the interview and being present for the Q&A exchange. In that interview, Mizuhara reportedly admitted to being in deep gambling debts to a bookie and the interpreter claims he asked Ohtani to pay that off for him.

"Obviously, he [Ohtani] wasn't happy about it and said he would help me out to make sure I never do this again," Mizuhara reportedly told ESPN.

Here is where things got confusing last week – Ohtani’s spokesperson, the person who arranged Mizuhara’s interview with ESPN, "disavowed" what the interpreter told ESPN. On top of shooting down Mizuhara’s accounts, Ohtani’s attorney’s with Berk Brettler LLP released the following statement as they brace for the release of ESPN and LA Times’ reports:

"In the course of responding to recent media inquiries, we discovered that Shohei has been the victim of a massive theft and we are turning the matter over to the authorities."

On Monday, March 25, Ohtani backed his attorney's statement, saying Mizuhara's claims of the Dodger star paying off his gambling debts were not true.

"All of this has been a complete lie," Shohei Ohtani said, through Will Ireton.

LA Times’ bombshell report last week revealed the bookie tied to Mizuhara, Mathew Bowyer, is under federal investigation.

Since the release of the bombshell reports, MLB launched an investigation into Ohtani and the Dodgers have fired Mizuhara.

Ohtani said on Monday he was "beyond shocked."

"It's really hard to verbalize how I am feeling at this point," said Ohtani through Ireton.

It appears Ohtani will continue to take the field for the Dodgers until further notice. Ohtani's statement Monday comes as the 2-time MVP signed a monster 10-year, $700 million deal with the Dodgers prior to the 2024 MLB regular season.

Fans who have followed Ohtani's career since his days with the Los Angeles Angels know about the bond between the now-Dodger and Mizuhara. Whether it was in the dugout during the games or off the field, the two were nearly inseparable leading up to last week's fallout. 

Ohtani has since unfollowed Mizuhara on Instagram.

"I'm very saddened and shocked that someone who I trusted has done this," Ohtani said through Ireton on March 25.