Jeopardy! contestant Brayden Smith, hailed by fans as "Alex's Last Great Champion," has died, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports. Smith's five-game winning streak, which aired in December and January, was the final one of Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek's lengthy career ahead of his death from cancer in November. Smith was 24 years old.
The Review-Journal did not report a cause of death for the young Jeopardy! champion, who was looking forward to competing in the next Tournament of Champions, according to his obituary. 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. He 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."
Smith won more than $100,000 in his five appearances on the show and told the quiz show that he greatly appreciated being a part of Trebek's final episodes. "To be around Alex, who you know has been sort of a mainstay in my life. To finally be on stage with somebody that I’ve seen five nights a week, every week for over a decade was really a dream come true," Smith said in an interview posted on social media.
“Just in these last few months, I think back on it all the time, and really savor each moment that I got to have with him… just talking to him, person-to-person, was really great,” he added. "Jeopardy! is so much better than anything I could even imagine. Every moment since I last was on the studio lot has been a moment that I've been wanting to get back on there."
He spoke highly of the Tournament of Champions, which he was planning on playing in. "Tournament of Champions has been my favorite tournament every year since I was a kid. 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."