Los Angeles Dodgers superstar Shohei Ohtani and his longterm interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, are at the center of what could become the biggest story of the MLB season.

Mizuhara is accused of accruing $4.5 million in debt through illegal sports betting and of stealing Ohtani’s money to pay it off.

The situation has reignited a national debate about the rise of sports betting.

Who is Shohei Ohtani?

Ohtani is one of the MLB’s biggest stars.

While playing for the Los Angeles Angels from 2018-2023, he emerged as a top pitcher and hitter and was named the American League MVP twice.

In December, Ohtani signed a mega-contract with the Dodgers. He’ll earn $700 million over 10 years, as the Deseret News previously reported.

Ohtani is from Japan and, although he can speak English, he chooses to have an interpreter with him when meeting with members of the press.

Who is Ippei Mizuhara?

Mizuhara has been Ohtani’s interpreter since he entered the MLB. Their relationship is quite different than the relationships between other foreign players and their interpreters, according to The Athletic.

“For much of the last seven years, they were rarely seen apart. They drove to the ballpark together, with Mizuhara essentially serving as Ohtani’s driver before the two-way star got his driver’s license in his early seasons with the Angels. Whenever Ohtani threw, Mizuhara would be close behind, with either a phone camera recording his mechanics or a pocket radar gun tracking data,” The Athletic reported.

For his interpreting work, Mizuhara was paid by Ohtani’s teams rather than Ohtani.

“Mizuhara had a contract with the Los Angeles Angels when Ohtani played there and signed with the Dodgers this offseason. Mizuhara confirmed to ESPN he has been paid between $300,000 and $500,000 annually,” ESPN reported.

What happened with Ohtani’s interpreter?

Mizuhara was fired by the Dodgers Wednesday amid still-unfolding gambling-related drama.

The interpreter has been accused of stealing $4.5 million from Ohtani to cover gambling debts, which he allegedly incurred by placing bets with a bookmaker in California, where sports betting is illegal, per ESPN. Mizuhara reportedly bet on sports like soccer and football, not baseball.

The bookmaking operation is under federal investigation, ESPN reported.

Before Wednesday, a spokesman for Ohtani told ESPN that the baseball star was aware of wire transfers to the bookmaking operation and that he had agreed to cover Mizuhara’s gambling debt.

“The spokesman presented Mizuhara to ESPN for a 90-minute interview Tuesday night, during which Mizuhara laid out his account in great detail. However, as ESPN prepared to publish the story Wednesday, the spokesman disavowed Mizuhara’s account and said Ohtani’s lawyers would issue a statement,” ESPN reported.

Mizuhara was with Ohtani and the Dodgers Wednesday in South Korea for a game against the San Diego Padres as all that was playing out. He spoke with the team after they won to explain his “gambling addiction,” per ESPN.

Hours after that team meeting, Mizuhara was fired.

Ohtani is not accused of being involved in the gambling and is not currently under investigation by the MLB, according to The Athletic.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told ESPN Thursday that the team’s performance operations manager, Will Ireton, will take over interpreting work for Ohtani.