Shohei Ohtani's attempt to control gambling narrative has already backfired

Shohei Ohtani has accused his former interpreter Ippei Mizuhara of stealing $4.5 million. Has he taken that case to the authorities?

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Los Angeles Dodgers v Los Angeles Angels / Katharine Lotze/GettyImages

Shohei Ohtani took no questions in a press conference on Monday addressing a gambling scandal involving his former interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara. Ohtani claimed that Mizuhara stole millions of dollars from him to pay off alleged gambling debts.

Mizuhara, who has taken the blame publicly and stated that Ohtani did not gamble on any sports including baseball, could be subject to prosecution from Ohtani's legal team if found guilty. The department of homeland security told ESPN on Tuesday that it is investigation Mizuhara alongside the IRS regarding the supposed theft, though it's unclear if Ohtani prompted the action.

"Homeland Security Investigations Los Angeles and IRS Criminal Investigation Los Angeles Field Office are conducting a joint federal investigation into the matter," a spokesperson told ESPN in a statement, noting he was referring to the "overall investigation including Mizuhara's role."

Why is Shohei Ohtani's team radio silent?

In his statement to the media on Monday, Ohtani was very clear that he never bet on sports, and was disappointed with one of his close friends for betraying his trust.

"I never bet on baseball or any other sports or never have asked somebody to do that on my behalf," Ohtani said through his new interpreter. "I have never went through a bookmaker to bet on sports. Up until a couple of days ago, I didn't know that this was happening."

Beyond his press conference, however, Ohtani refused to answer any media inquiries and has since tried to focus solely on baseball. While the 24-hour news cycle will eventually take hold, being associated with a gambling scandal in any way will follow him beyond just this season until he clears his name.

One Shohei Ohtani conspiracy theory debunked

The initial question from many around the sports world was how Ohtani didn't know Mizuhara was removing this much money from his bank account. The answer to this is simple -- it's common for international players (and perhaps athletes as a whole) to own multiple checking accounts.

Japanese and international players in particular struggle in financial transactions due to the language gap, so they often give their interpreter or trusted representative access to such information.

Ohtani's attempt to control the narrative is understandable, but by not answering questions or, potentially, complying with authorities, he is only hurting himself.