Shohei Ohtani's Interpreter Was Fired Following a Massive Gambling Scandal

The world's biggest baseball star was able to get his interpreter a pretty substantial salary.


Mar. 21 2024, Published 11:13 a.m. ET

Shohei Ohtani answers questions and Ippei Mizuhara translates during the Shohei Ohtani Los Angeles Dodgers Press Conference at Dodger Stadium on Thursday, December 14, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
Source: Getty Images

Shohei Ohtani and Ippei Mizuhara at a press conference in December 2023

Thanks to his status as one of the greatest players in baseball, plenty of attention gets focused on Shohei Ohtani, who is preparing for his first season with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Now, though, the focus is on Shohei's interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, who has been fired from the Dodgers amid allegations of gambling and theft from the baseball great.

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Following the news that Ippei was fired, many wanted to better understand who he was, and how much he was making before he got involved with gambling. Here's what we know about who Ippei is, and what his salary was for the Dodgers.

Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Dodgers talks to his interpreter Ippei Mizuhara in the dugout during the 2024 Seoul Series game between Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres at Gocheok Sky Dome on March 20, 2024 in Seoul, South Korea. (Photo by Masterpress/Getty Images)
Source: Getty Images

Shohei Ohtani and Ippei Mizuhara during a March 2024 game in Seoul, South Korea.

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What was Shohei Ohtani's interpreter's salary?

Ippei is a close personal friend of Shohei's in addition to being his interpreter, and ESPN reported that he was making between $300,000 and $500,000 for his work as Shohei's interpreter, both when he was with the Angels and with the Dodgers.

Ippei was a familiar face to baseball fans in large part because he was Shohei's constant companion, interpreting for him during media interviews and other public appearances.

He was fired following reporting from ESPN and The Los Angeles Times about his connections to an illegal bookmaker. Sports betting is still illegal in California.

“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,” law firm Berk Brettler LLP said in a statement on March 20, 2024.

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Ippei said that he never bet on baseball.

MLB rules prohibit players from betting on baseball, even legally, and also from betting on other sports with illegal or offshore bookmakers. In speaking with ESPN on March 19, 2024, Ippei said that he had never bet on baseball, and instead bet on international soccer, the NFL, the NBA, and college football.

“I never bet on baseball,” he said. “That’s 100 percent. I knew that rule ... We have a meeting about that in spring training.”

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After initially claiming that Shohei was aware of his gambling debts, Ippei changed his story on March 20, explaining instead that Shohei had no knowledge of his activities and had never transferred any money to bookmakers.

“I’m terrible (at gambling). Never going to do it again. Never won any money,” Ippei said. “I mean, I dug myself a hole and it kept on getting bigger, and it meant I had to bet bigger to get out of it and just kept on losing. It’s like a snowball effect.”

Ippei said that by the end of 2022, he was $1 million in debt, and his losses continued to increase from there. It's still unclear how aware Shohei was of this activity, and whether he'll face any punishment as a result. For now, though, the Dodgers are trying to keep the focus on the upcoming season. This is already the biggest gambling-related scandal in the world of baseball in decades, and there's a decent chance it could get even bigger.

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