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Five-time Jeopardy! champion Brayden Smith dies at 24 in Las Vegas

A contestant who appeared in some of the final episodes of Jeopardy! with Alex Trebek has died at the age of 24.

Brayden Andrew Smith, who has been branded ‘Alex’s Last Great Champion,’ died on the morning of February 5 from undisclosed causes, according to an obituary.

Before Trebek’s death from pancreatic cancer on November 8, Smith won a five-game streak and more than $115,000.

The young contestant was looking forward to competing in the show’s Tournament of Champions.

Brayden Smith, 24, died unexpectedly in Las Vegas on February 5, his family said on Twitter

Smith, whose death comes months after show host Alex Trevek, pictured, has been dubbed Alex's Last Great Champion

Smith, whose death comes months after show host Alex Trevek, pictured, has been dubbed Alex’s Last Great Champion

The show’s executive producer Mike Richards previously told Entertainment Weekly that Trebek was a fan of the young brainiac. 

‘I could tell that he very much enjoyed that young man, and that was fun to watch. I think that energized him,’ he said.

His mother, Debbie Smith, wrote on Twitter that he ‘passed away unexpectedly.’

‘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,’ she tweeted. 

Smith graduated from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas with a degree in economics in 2020 and planned to attend law school to become an attorney for the federal government.

‘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,’ the show tweeted.

Smith's mom, Debbie Smith, announced the February 5 death of her son on Twitter

Smith’s mom, Debbie Smith, announced the February 5 death of her son on Twitter

According to his obituary, Smith was ‘a voracious reader and autodidact, a lover of knowledge and an advocate for justice.’ 

‘His room was bursting with books on political science, philosophy, economics and history,’ the obituary reads. 

Smith recently served as an intern researching criminal justice reform issues for the libertarian think tank Cato Institute in Washington, D.C.

In an interview posted in January, Smith described his experience with the show as a ‘whirlwind’ as he waited for his episodes to air.

‘I’ve been on pins and needles. But I was glad I was able to do it and I was glad I was able to show what I was capable of,’ he said.

Smith later said that the best part of the experience was spending time with Trebek.

‘Doing the questions and answers is almost incidental, I think, to spending time with somebody who I had cherished in my life for such a long period of time,’ he said.

Smith attended Liberty High School in Henderson, Nevada where he was a National Merit Scholar semifinalist.

He was active in the Junior Classical League and captained his school’s Quiz Bowl team to back-to-back state runner-up finishes, according to his obituary. 

Smith has often been compared to Jeopardy! champion James Holzhauer.

Holzhauer and his wife, Melissa, said in a statement to the Las Vegas Review Journal that Smith was ‘a great Jeopardy! champion.’

‘A very inspiring player and a very bright, kind young man. He touched us with his kindness and we are very saddened by his loss,’ the statement reads. 


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