ESPN reporter talks about interview with Ohtani's former interpreter

A reporter for US sports channel ESPN who interviewed the Japanese interpreter at the center of a gambling scandal has spoken with NHK.

Reporter Tisha Thompson spoke with the interpreter, Mizuhara Ippei by phone on Tuesday. Mizuhara was the interpreter for MLB star Ohtani Shohei. Thompson says Mizuhara described in detail how Ohtani had wired money to help Mizuhara pay off his gambling debts. She says Mizuhara told her he watched Ohtani log onto his computer and send the first wire transfer while he relayed instructions from the bookmaker on the content of the transfer, including saying it was a loan.

Thompson said she interviewed Mizuhara again by phone the next day after he was fired by the Los Angeles Dodgers. In the meantime, lawyers for Ohtani had released a statement saying the star player had been the victim of a "massive theft."

Thompson said she read out the statement from Ohtani's attorneys and asked Mizuhara what had happened, as he was reluctant to speak.

She said she asked if he had lied to her in their first interview the night before, and he said yes.

She said Mizuhara stated Ohtani never knew about his gambling debts and that Ohtani did not make the payments to the bookmaker. However, he did not say who did.

Thompson says Mizuhara is facing at least a federal investigation, and also a Major League Baseball investigation, which she described as "very important" to people who play baseball, including Ohtani.

She also said that although details were unknown, other police agencies may be investigating the case in regard to possible claims of embezzlement, fraud and theft.

Editorial note: An earlier report was incorrect in stating that Thompson says she told Mizuhara he was facing at least a federal investigation... The sentence should have been written: "Thompson says Mizuhara is facing at least a federal investigation..."