The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

    COOVERT: Ohtani has done nothing wrong

    MLB’s brightest star has fallen under controversy due to a gambling scandal
    Shohei Ohtani batting in an MLB game.

    On March 20, news broke that the interpreter for international baseball superstar Shohei Ohtani was being investigated for embezzlement of funds. Ippei Mizuhara, the 39-year-old interpreter, and best friend of Ohtani, reportedly lost $4.5 million of Ohtani’s money while gambling. 

    Fans on social media and YouTube have been quick to condemn Shohei. 

    “Shohei Ohtani’s fall guy is the world’s greatest friend,” said 670 The Score, a Chicago-based radio station.

    Many X users took it further.

    “At minimum Ohtani knew and sent the money, worst case Ohtani was betting on himself,” one said.

    Personally, I could not disagree with this sentiment more. Naturally, fans of other teams, particularly Padres and Giants fans who despise the Dodgers, and Angels fans who are mad Shohei walked away from them in free agency, are going to make these accusations, but no evidence really suggests Shohei Ohtani is at fault here. 

    According to Ohtani, Mizuhara was stealing his money. According to Mizuhara, Shohei lent him the money to pay off his debt. Either way, Ohtani is not at fault, and should not be blemished for this incident. 

    Let’s take a look at both stories:

    If we are to believe Ohtani’s story, then he did nothing wrong. Mizuhara was simply a terrible friend and took money from him. Some people may ask “How did Ohtani not notice he was losing $4.5 million? That doesn’t make any sense!”

    Doesn’t it? Imagine you are Ohtani. You are an international star, making upwards of $50 million a year in endorsement deals alone, not to mention his salary with the Angels, which paid him $42 million over six years.

    He spends most of his time practicing baseball, signing brand deals, and hiding from the media with his wife and his dog. My point is that Ohtani is a very busy man, and to him, $4.5 million is hardly an attention-catching amount of money.

    Even the most conservative estimates of his net worth place him as having around $50 million total value, although his true net worth is likely much higher than that, due to the international sponsorships and brand deals he has signed.

    Even if we are to take the $50 million at face value, that would mean that Ohtani, incrementally, over a span of multiple years, lost less than 10% of his total value. $4.5 million is a lot of money, but it’s not much when you already have $50 million.

    Once you have $50 million, do you even check your bank account? Ohtani might be an idiot for not catching the embezzlement, but can you really blame him? He has much better things to do with his time than micromanaging his money. Perhaps that is why it was so easy for Ippei to steal from him. 

    But let’s say Mizuhara was telling the truth, that Shohei was willingly paying him to cover his gambling debts. Why is that a problem? What is wrong with helping a friend out? Shohei didn’t gain anything from paying off Mizuhara’s debts, he was simply being a generous friend. 

    Blaming Shohei for the crime of “betting on himself,” or betting on other teams, also just doesn’t make sense. Ohtani is the best player in the sport, he just signed a contract that will eventually make him $700 million.

    He will likely become a billionaire when it’s all said and done. Why would he throw all of that away for gambling, which in comparison, would be chump change? What would the benefits be for him to risk his career? There is nothing logical about accusing Ohtani of doing anything wrong. 

    Fans hate Shohei Ohtani for being good, and so they will continue to bring this up, as if it “proves” he is not a good person and should be an “asterisk” on his career.

    Many of the same Giants fans who are attacking Ohtani now, and claiming the MLB should investigate and ban him from the sport, will fervently tell you that Barry Bonds, an actual cheater who used steroids to achieve his success, should be in the Hall of Fame.

    It just goes to show that for fans, being supportive of your team (and antagonistic toward your rivals) is what we value most. Attempts to label Ohtani as a wrongdoer are disingenuous. It’s no more than people who despise him as a player, and when the boos inevitably reign down on him this season, just remember, no evidence suggests Ohtani has done anything wrong.

    These fans would have booed Ohtani regardless of this drama. They will claim he is overrated, that he shouldn’t be allowed to play, and that he should be given the Pete Rose treatment. But they cannot, in their heart of hearts, deny the truth.

    Shohei Ohtani, right now, is the greatest baseball player on the planet, and his dominance will continue for years to come. This ‘scandal’ will be forgotten within a year by most, as it should, because Shohei Ohtani has done nothing wrong.

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    About the Contributor
    Levi is a sophomore broadcast news major from Tacoma, Washington. He loves the Seahawks, Mariners, Kraken and of course the Cougs.