Brayden Smith, the 24-year-old “Jeopardy!” winner dubbed Alex Trebek’s last great champion on social media, has died suddenly.
Born in Henderson, Nevada, Smith died Feb. 5 in Las Vegas, according to his obituary published in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. No cause was listed.
“We are heartbroken to share that our dear Brayden Smith recently passed away unexpectedly. We are so grateful that Brayden was able to live out his dream on Jeopardy,” his mom, Debbie Smith, tweeted Friday.
In December, Smith rattled off a five-game winning streak in which he amassed more than $116,000 and was likely to qualify for the Tournament of Champions. His victory run was the final significant spree with Trebek – who died last November of pancreatic cancer at the age of 80 – helming the podium.
“Everybody knows he is ailing,” Smith said of Trebek during a TV interview. “To put on a brave face to go out there every day and continue to give America and the world some good cheer, especially this year, was really a testament to how great of a person he was.”
Smith graduated from UNLV in 2020 with a degree in economics. He recently interned at the Cato Institute in Washington, where he did research on criminal-justice issues, and intended to attend law school.
He was also a lover of music, film and sports, according to his obituary.
Smith’s family has established the Brayden Smith Memorial Fund in his honor to support “the educational aspirations of southern Nevada students,” reported ETCanada.
“The ‘Jeopardy!’ family is heartbroken by the tragic loss of Brayden Smith,” read a Friday tweet from the official show site. “He was kind, funny and absolute brilliant. Our deepest condolences go out to Brayden’s family. He will be missed.”Survivors include his parents and three brothers, according to his obituary.
“Jeopardy!” guest host Ken Jennings concludes his interim duties on Feb. 19, when he will be replaced by journalist Katie Couric. Reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers, CNN politico Anderson Cooper, talk show host Dr. Mehmet Oz and “Call Me Kat” star Mayim Bialik will also serve as temporary hosts.
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