Brayden Smith Dead: Cause of Death Revealed for Final 5-Game 'Jeopardy!' Winner of Alex Trebek Era

Recent five-time Jeopardy! winner Brayden Smith died last week at just 24 years old. Fans were shocked by the development and left clamoring for details about his death, which a Las Vegas CBS station reports was caused by complications from a surgery he underwent for an undisclosed condition in the days prior to his death.

News station KLAS reported that the contestant dubbed "Billy Buzzsaw" by Trebek spent time at a Southern Nevada hospital prior to his death, citing family sources. The outlet did not specify the nature of the illness or the surgery. Smith's mother Debbie announced her son's death on Friday, thanking people for the support. "The outpouring of love for Brayden is overwhelming," Debbie tweeted. "We can't express how much your beautiful comments are comforting us during this painfully sad time. Thank you."

The Las Vegas Review-Journal, which published Smith's obituary, did not report a cause of death for the young Jeopardy! champion at the time of his death. The Nevada native was a 2020 graduate of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas with a degree in economics and he intended to attend law school to become an attorney for the federal government.

Brayden Smith is considered to be Trebek's "Last Great Champion." He won more than $100,000 in his five appearances on the show. According to his obituary, Smith was looking forward to competing in the next Tournament of Champions. "Tournament of Champions has been my favorite tournament every year since I was a kid," Smith said. "These people are sort of my trivia idols and to know that I'm gonna be on the same metaphorical and literal stage that they were on is really something special."

The show released a statement following Smith's death, offering condolences to his family. "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 statement said.


Prior to his death, Smith conducted an interview with Jeopardy! correspondent Sarah Whitcomb Foss. He spoke about his time on the show and called it a whirlwind. "I just wanted to stay there as long as possible. It's really a great feeling to be on set — to be around smart, nice, warm people," Smith said.

Smith is survived by three brothers and parents Scott and Deborah Smith, as well as his maternal grandparents and paternal grandmother and aunts, uncles, and cousins. Funeral arrangements are pending, but in the meantime, the family is asking that donations in Smith's memory be made to the Brayden Smith Memorial Fund, "dedicated to furthering the educational aspirations of southern Nevada students."