shohei ohtani with interpreter Ippei mizuhara

Shohei Ohtani Gambling Scandal

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Updated Mar 21, 2024 at 03:26PM EDT by Zach.

Added Mar 21, 2024 at 11:57AM EDT by Adam.

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Overview

Shohei Ohtani Gambling Scandal refers to the controversy surrounding star baseball player Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Dodgers and his interpreter Ippei Mizuhara being connected to an illegal gambling operation, with Ohtani appearing to wire $4.5 million to a bookie. Mizuhara initially said that Ohtani wired him that money to cover his personal gambling debt, but Ohtani's lawyers allege that Ohtani was the victim of "massive theft." Conflicting stories about Ohtani's situation from Mizuhara and his lawyers have raised suspicion on the level of Ohtani's involvement in the scandal. In late March 2024, after the story broke in the news, it generated widespread discourse, jokes and memes online.

Background

On March 20th, 2024, the Los Angeles Dodgers fired Shohei Ohtani's longtime interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara,[1] setting off a wave of revelations about a scandal involving Ohtani, Mizuhara and an illegal bookie named Matthew Bowyer. The key scandal involves payments of $4.5 million from Ohtani's bank account to an associate of Bowyer's.



As the story was breaking, Mizuhara told ESPN on March 19th that Ohtani had wired him that money to cover gambling debts that he had incurred. However, as ESPN prepared to publish the story on March 20th, an Ohtani spokesperson disavowed Mizuhara's account and told ESPN that Ohtani's lawyers would issue a statement. That statement alleged that Ohtani had been a victim of "massive theft" and they would be turning the matter over to the authorities.

ESPN's reporting confirmed payments from Ohtani's bank account to an associate of Bowyer's. Multiple sources told the publication that Ohtani does not gamble. Bowyer's lawyer said the bookie never spoke with Ohtani.

Online Reactions

Online, social media users discussed and joked about multiple elements surrounding the story. On March 20th, 2024, Twitter / X user @MikeBeauvais[2] pointed out how MLB has partnered with multiple gambling websites, seeming to lay the blame at MLB's feet, gaining over 1,200 retweets and 12,000 likes (shown below, top).

On March 21st, Twitter user @velodus[3] made a similar post about how major sports networks often advertise gambling websites yet act shocked at the Ohtani news, gaining over 40 likes in two hours (shown below, bottom).


Mike Beauvais @MikeBeauvais I can't believe Shohei Ohtani's interpreter got in over his head gambling. I'm not sure how this could happen. ... FANDUEL MGM RESORTS OFFICIAL PARTNER OF MLB OFFICIAL PARTNER OF MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL betcris P Official Partner of Major League Baseball DRAFT KINGS Official Sports Betting Partner of MLB GAMBLING PROBLEM? CALL 1-800-GAMBLER (PA) OR 877-8-HOPENY/TEXT HOPENY (467369) (NY). Velodus @velodus The hosts of all your favorite shows who take a few minutes every episode to plug FanDuel, Draft Kings, BetMGM, ESPN Bet, Fox Bet, Betway, PointsBet, Bet365, or Bet Rivers: the optics of this Shohei Ohtani story are troubling 10:12 AM · Mar 21, 2024 • :

Others made jokes on the premise that Ohtani was the one with the gambling problem. For example, on March 20th, 2024, Twitter user @krktwe3ts[4] posted the Old People Playing Slots meme with the caption, "Me liking all the Ohtani and Ippei conspiracy theories," gaining over 420 retweets and 4,700 likes in one day (shown below, top).

The same day, user @timebuh[5] tweeted the You're Telling Me That For The First Time Trump clip with the caption, "Ohtani finding out his interpreter has been gambling his money for him," gaining over 630 retweets and 6,900 likes in one day (shown below, bottom).


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