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24-Year-Old “Jeopardy” Champ Dies Unexpectedly

Brayden Smith, the five-time “Jeopardy!” champion who was one of the last great players of the Alex Trebek era, passed away last week. He was 24 years old.


The Las Vegas Review Journal reported that Smith died on the morning of February 5 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“We are heartbroken to share that our dear Brayden Smith recently passed away unexpectedly,” tweeted his mother, Debbie Smith. “We are so grateful that Brayden was able to live out his dream on @jeopardy.”

“Brayden attained a lifelong dream as a five-time champion on the popular ‘Jeopardy!’ television game show,” Smith’s obituary stated. “His appearances were among the last hosted by Alex Trebek, and Brayden was hailed on social media as ‘Alex’s Last Great Champion.’ He was looking forward to competing in the show’s Tournament of Champions.”

The official “Jeopardy!” Twitter account paid tribute to Smith as well, writing, “The ‘JEOPARDY!’ family is heartbroken by the tragic loss of Brayden Smith. He was kind, funny and absolutely brilliant. Our deepest condolences go out to Brayden’s family. He will be missed.”

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Smith’s “Jeopardy!” episodes aired in December, and they were among the last that were filmed before the death of Trebek, who died in November at the age of 80 after a battle with pancreatic cancer. The episodes Smith appeared on aired after Trebek’s death, but were filmed weeks before he died.

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Smith was a graduate of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas with a degree in economics, and his plan was to attend law school and then become an attorney for the federal government. He had recently been an intern for the prestigious Cato Institute in Washington, D.C., where he researched criminal justice reform issues.

“Brayden loved classic and not-so-classic movies,” his obituary said. “He could be explaining the symbolism in Citizen Kane one moment and the comedic timing in Dumb And Dumber the next. He played the saxophone and enjoyed listening to a variety of music, from Duke Ellington, Chet Baker and Miles Davis to the Beach Boys, Steely Dan, and Toto. He was an avid sports fan, cheering on the Detroit Tigers and Vegas Golden Knights.


“I’m really grateful for everything, all the opportunities that I had,” Smith said after his “Jeopardy!” streak ended, according to Entertainment Tonight. “I was glad that I was able to show what I was capable of.”

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This piece originally appeared in and is used by permission.

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