Shohei The Money Ohtani

Tis the season to be jolly and the thoughts of every good iGamer turns to–what else–that vital blessing: Money!

So how’s this for the understatement of the week, if not the year: “While US$700 million is a lot of money, it’s just millions.”

The words belong to money manager Sean Packard, one of those wiseacres who comes packaged in every superstar athlete’s entourage. You know, the guy who advises you How To Spend It, or, more saliently, How Not To Spend It, while taking, no doubt, a decent enough commission for his sagacity.

Packard was commenting on the mega deal that has brought Japanese baseball sensation Shohei Ohtani across Los Angeles–from The Angels to The Dodgers–in the biggest sporting contract in US history — worth an astonishing US$700 million (£549m) over 10-years.

The LA Dodgers–formerly the Brooklyn Dodgers of Jackie Robinson fame–have long coveted the brilliance and unabashed star pulling power of Ohtani — just like every other of the 29 teams in Major League Baseball.

Now they’ve got their man.

For the uninitiated; which, I guess, means many of our non-US readers; 29-year-old, Oshu, Japan-born, Ohtani is arguably the greatest “two-way” player in baseball in a century — with the charisma to match.

Two-Way All-Star

Two-way means he can both pitch and hit, bat and bowl, along the lines of a cricket all-rounder, like Sir Ian Botham or current England captain Ben Stokes.

In 2021 Ohtani (left), a towering 6’5” (1.96 metres) tall, hit an astonishing 46 home runs and, armed with a 100mph fastball, clocked 156 strikeouts as a pitcher.

He was named an All-Star at both his positions and was, unsurprisingly, voted the American League’s MVP, Most Valuable Player.

What makes Ohtani’s deal even more singular, from a financial perspective, is that the lad has decided to defer most of his wages until the end of his contract, taking “just” US$2 million (£1.56m) a year until then.

He’s then arranged to receive the balance at US$68 million (£53.33m) a year for a decade; which means he will be able to avoid paying state income taxes by moving back to Japan or, for example, Florida, where there are no state income taxes; or another tax-free territory.

Has Shohei been learning something from the gambling industry, with its love of off-shoring and tax-free havens?

His brilliance, much like Ben Stokes in English cricket, has certainly boosted interest in a sport–again like cricket–that is nominally “the national” game but one which has long been overtaken by a variety of football.


Around US$1 billion (£784m) a year is wagered by mobile sports bettors on American baseball over its seven-month-long season between end-March and start-November.

But the impressive sum is dwarfed by the massive US$100 billion bet on American football (£78.43bn) every season.

And remember these are all legit “ballpark” figures–forgive the pun–that don’t account for all the off-shore or grey market action.

Still, it’s not the time of year to dwell on negatives.

So let’s salute Shohei Ohtani, the current saviour of baseball and the man who’s saved himself a bunch of taxes.

Besides, nobody’s mentioned his endorsements.

And they, whisper it, are worth some US$45 million a year.

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