Ohtani interpreter gambling scandal being developed into TV series by Lionsgate

May 9, 2024
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Announcement comes after Ippei Mizuhara is set to plead guilty to bank fraud and signing a false tax return.

Lionsgate Television has announced the development of a scripted TV series based upon the real-life sports gambling scandal surrounding MLB superstar Shohei Ohtani's interpreter. Tony Award winner Scott Delman and sports journalist Albert Chen have been tasked with producing the series by Lionsgate. 

"With a strong track record of creating daring, boundary-pushing series, Lionsgate Television is the perfect partner to bring this unbelievable story to the screen," Delman said. 

"In addition, Albert's extensive sports journalism background will enable us to connect the dots to make sense of the startling turn of events we've seen play out on the world stage."

The show will also follow Ohtani’s upbringing, how he became a star in the MLB and signing a 10-year, $700m contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers this past Winter. 

Ippei Mizuhara, Ohtani’s interpreter, will plead guilty to bank fraud and signing a false tax return, facing a possible sentence of up to 33 years for the two crimes. Mazuhara was discovered to have stolen as much as $17m from Ohtani to pay off gambling debts, brought upon by an admitted addiction. 

“This is Major League Baseball’s biggest sports gambling scandal since Pete Rose and at its center is its biggest star, one that MLB has hitched its wagon on,” Chen said in a statement. 

“We’ll get to the heart of the story, a story of trust, betrayal and the trappings of wealth and fame.”

So far no writer or network has been attached to the project, but Executive Max Elins will oversee the project for Lionsgate and Bryan Weiser negotiated the deal to begin development. It is unclear how much access Lionsgate will have to Ohtani himself, as the superstar has remained essentially mute since the story first broke in March 2024. 

Ohtani is currently off to a scorching start at the plate, batting .355 with 11 home runs and 27 runs batted in (RBIs), showing no sign that recent news of the scandal has affected his play.

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