Winners & Losers: The Unintended Consequences (and Benefits) of Ippei Mizuhara

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Ippei Mizuhara scandal

People visit the United States from foreign countries, and they want to try distinctly American things. Maybe it’s a hot dog in Chicago, a slice of pizza in New York, or a trek through the Grand Canyon.

Some travelers want to indulge in sports betting, which, since being legalized all over the place here, recently evolved into a kind of national pastime. Legal sports-betting in America generated a record-setting $120 billion in handle during 2023.

Ippei Mizuhara went for sports betting – albeit, the illegal variation – like it’s nobody’s business. His boss was Shohei Ohtani, MLB’s highest paid player and superstar pitcher who signed a gargantuan deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Mizuhara blew some $16 million of Ohtani’s money by gambling on games.

ohtani Mizuhara scandal
Image: Twitter/Dodgers Nation

Mizuhara was Ohtani’s translator and the money belonged to Ohtani. The losing sports degen, who apparently understands English and Japanese better than he understands what over and under mean in betting, managed to lose the sum over the course of just three years, beginning in 2021.

He embezzled the $16 million from Ohtani’s bank account in order to make good on his losses.

If Mizuhara simply made the bets, lost the money and stole millions to pay his debts, he’d be a terrible employee and a criminal who only hurt himself and his employer.

But it’s been alleged that the process involved a middle-man – the bodybuilding Ryan Boyajian, who happens to be a cast member on the cheeseball reality show “The Real Housewives of Orange County” – and multiple casinos.

Ryan Boyajian
Image credit: Daily Mail Online/X

The way it looks now, according to sources, Mizuhara wired the money to a bank account controlled by Boyajian, said to be a pal of the bookie Mathew Bowyer, to whom Mizuhara lost his money.

Boyajian, a mortgage consultant, would then allegedly transfer the millions into his marker accounts at casinos, including Resorts World Las Vegas and Pechanga in Southern California.

Flush with casino currency, the bookie and his buddy made like high rollers, gambling the proceeds and receiving loads of comps.

Ill-gotten gains were turned into chips, which became fiat when they won. In the process, they enjoyed free steakhouse dinners, lavish accommodations and casino-funded shopping sprees.

According to the Washington Post, Bowyer’s gambling was prodigious enough that he joined mega high rollers in a celebrity golf tournament where the bookie – who claimed to own a dojo – was paired with Charles Barkley.

All of this coming to light is bad news for the casinos involved, for Mizuhara and Ohtani, for Boyajian and Bowyer (who has not been named in an indictment visible to the public).

It’s great news for the “Real Housewives” franchise, which is receiving the kind of sordid publicity that is completely on brand.

Boyajian’s lawyer told ESPN that Boyajian “is not a bookmaker or a sub-bookie.” Boyajian is said to be testifying in the case in exchange for immunity.

One big beneficiary in all of this: Lionsgate Television. The Hollywood production-company is developing a script that will turn the whole mess into a TV series.

No doubt it will be entertaining. Via statement, a producer of the project described it as “a story of trust, betrayal and the trappings of wealth and fame.”

Maybe not by coincidence, that sounds a lot like a season of “The Real Housewives.”

No doubt, Ippei Mizuhara will enjoy watching the production from behind bars – he stands to be sentenced to as many as 30 years for bank fraud – as he stings from the lesson that Hollywood always wins and wonders why he wagered on sports instead of reality-based entertainment.

That, he should have realized, is the real American pastime. I wonder if he ever got to taste a Chicago hot dog or a New York slice.

Michael Kaplan
Gambling Author and Journalist
Michael Kaplan
Gambling Author and Journalist

Michael Kaplan is a journalist based in New York City joined Techopedia in November 2023. He is the author of five books ("The Advantage Players" comes out in 2024) and has worked for publications that include Wired, GQ and the New York Post. He has written extensively on technology, gambling and business — with a particular interest in spots where all three intersect. His article on Kelly "Baccarat Machine" Sun and Phil Ivey is in development as a feature film.