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Ippei, the Hobby Guy: How YOU May Have Participated in the Shohei Ohtani / Ippei Mizuhara Scandal

This already-awkward Instagram post may have gotten a lot more awkward in light of today’s news…

Yes, YOU, the Ohtani collector. The eBay mid-end to high-end eBay seller. The WhatNot baseball card streamer. While you most likely have an opinion about who’s playing what role in ShoheiGate, what you probably didn’t realize until today is that YOU, yes you, may have participated in this whole ordeal.

While your bank account certainly doesn’t see the benefits of a cool $100 million annually via salary and endorsements, you just might be in possession of a small percentage of the $16 million stolen from Shohei Ohtani by Ippei Mizuhara, his former interpreter, over the course of the last three years.

That’s because Mizuhara reportedly bought about 1,000 baseball cards with $325,000 of Ohtani’s money from January-March 2024 on eBay and WhatNot under the alias “JayMin.” This information comes from today’s release of the official federal complaint against Mizuhara, which contains a bevy of additional findings that paint what many figured to be an unlikely picture… that Shohei Ohtani might actually be innocent.

We’ll get back to your potential implications in the scandal, but seriously… read the reports. After looking through the official federal complaint, I believe what the feds are saying, which is what I wanted to believe all along… that Ohtani is the victim here. If you read the official documentation of this investigation and you still believe the MLB is involved in some type of conspiracy with the FBI to cover up a possible Ohtani gambling addiction, well, I might be fighting an uphill battle in attempting to convince you otherwise. But back to the weirdest twist in the story that none of us saw coming… that Ohtani’s potential drop in hobby value would be the more minor of the hobby-related aspects of this story.

According to the official federal complaint, it appears that Mizuhara was getting into our game. As his sports betting addiction was, well, not going well (to the tune of $40 million in losses), he started up a new venture into sports cards early in 2024 in an attempt to get some capital back (or as a new form of gambling, I guess). Page 31 of the complaint names Juan Soto and Yogi Berra as Mizuhara’s hobby investments of choice, in addition to cards of Ohtani himself. Yes, Mizuhara was buying Ohtani’s cards, with Ohtani’s money, “with the intent to resell them at a later date” (USA v Mizuhara Complaint, pg. 31).

So… did you sell any Soto, Berra or Ohtani cards to “JayMin” in January or March of 2024? If so, you
might be in possession of Shohei Ohtani’s money. We’re not sure if “JayMin” was the actual eBay or WhatNot username, but apparently Mizuhara was using this alias to hide his activities. He had even gotten a Dodgers clubhouse employee in on the deceit, asking the employee to set aside packages for “JayMin” that Mizuhara was expecting.

While this isn’t gambling on baseball, buying cards with the intent to resell is, as we know, gambling on a player’s potential. And while Soto and Ohtani are pretty safe bets, it’s wild to think about the fact that Mizuhara was attempting to cash in on Ohtani’s card market (with Ohtani’s own money!) and as a result, almost brought said market crashing down as part of the scandal that has rocked the baseball world. And it’s even more wild to think that you, the regular-old-eBay-reseller-guy, may have sold Mizuhara an Ohtani card… and that you may have received Ohtani’s money to pay for it.

Okay, we know that’s only true of a select few people out there, but it’s still a pretty crazy thought. And while this is a hobby implication we didn’t see coming from this saga, there are a few other hobby developments from this story that are important to note…

  1. Ohtani’s market is safe. Take a deep breath, folks. The Ohtani PC you’ve been building since 2018 will retain its value. We aren’t sure of further developments in this story, but it’s looking a lot more likely that Ohtani will remain MLB’s golden boy and his legacy will be definted by his otherwordly accomplishments on the field. You can safely proceed with buying Ohtani.
  2. Even people on the inside see the hobby as a legitimate investment. While Mizuhara isn’t the gold standard of financial advice, it’s really interesting to see people associated with the players investing in the hobby as a form of financial gain. Mizuhara was one of Ohtani’s closest friends and associates (the sadness of which is an understated piece of this story… there is a human element here that really bums me out), and he was actively buying cards of the game’s biggest stars with intent to resell. Again, Mizuhara is not your preferred choice of investment advice, but as we’ve seen with certain players (Corbin Carroll, Matt Strahm), the hobby has an element of respect from the inside that should be encouraging for hobbyists like you and me.
  3. It’s safe to say Ippei’s cards are going to see a steep decline. Yes, Ippei has a rookie card, among other cards… like the autographed and JSA certified card below that currently carries a humble asking price of just under $125,000. Let’s just predict that Ippei’s probably not a buyer on this one.
This bad boy is currently up for $124,995 on eBay…

This story has provided ridiculous twist after ridiculous twist, but at this point, the big developments are probably over. That being said, you can move on with your life as an Ohtani fan and collector knowing that a lifetime ban isn’t in the cards (pun intended). Sorry, Pete.

Nate Lake

Check out my eBay store: @natelakecards. Follow me on X: @natelakecards. Follow me on Instagram: @natelakecards.