Jeopardy’s James Holzhauer Shares Tribute, Donation After 5 Time Champ Dies At 24

Brayden Smith won five of Alex Trebek’s final Jeopardy episodes and earned more than his share of praise from both the now deceased host, former players and fans watching at home impressed by his trivia skills. Unfortunately, the 24-year-old tragically and unexpectedly passed away from complications following a surgery. Now tributes are pouring in and his family has started a memorial fund for students in southern Nevada in his honor.

Popular former Jeopardy winner James Holzhauer, who shared a Las Vegas connection with the Brayden Smith, amplified the memorial fund on social media and promised to match the first $10,000 worth of donations. You can see his touching Twitter post below, along with a link explaining how to donate…

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By all accounts, Brayden Smith was an incredibly bright man with what seemed like a very promising future ahead of him. He interned at the Cato Institute researching issues around criminal justice and was planning on attending law school with a goal of being a federal government attorney. He also loved sports and movies and played the saxophone. His obituary described him as a “voracious reader” and “lover of knowledge”, two attributes anyone who watched his recent run of Jeopardy episodes could tell you.

Smith ultimately appeared on six episodes of Jeopardy, winning the first five. He took home more than $100,000 in winnings and was looking forward to competing against the other top players during the Tournament of Champions. Sadly, he won’t get a chance to prove himself one more time, but with those Jeopardy victories, plus a scholarship for his outstanding Quiz Bowl accolades as a high schooler and the honor of being Alex Trebek’s final five day champion, there’s more than enough evidence of his excellence.

Jeopardy released a statement in response to Smith’s passing, as well. The game show said it was “heartbroken” over the loss and sent condolences to the family. You can see the statement below…

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The Jeopardy family is really very close knit. Former players and winners interact on a regular basis both in person and on social media, and there’s a respect that comes with even passing the tests to make it on the show. Smith earned every piece of praise he’s getting and a whole lot more. His family has thanked fans for all the kind wishes they’ve received so far, and the tributes from well-liked and popular former champions just keep pouring in.

The news of Smith’s passing, of course, follows closely behind the loss of longtime Jeopardy host Alex Trebek. His final episodes (six of which included Smith) recently finished airing, and we’re now on to new ones with Ken Jennings. He’ll be followed by a string of other guest hosts until the show eventually settles on a permanent replacement. If you want to donate to the memorial fund set up for Smith, you can do so here.

Mack Rawden
Editor In Chief

Mack Rawden is the Editor-In-Chief of CinemaBlend. He first started working at the publication as a writer back in 2007 and has held various jobs at the site in the time since including Managing Editor, Pop Culture Editor and Staff Writer. He now splits his time between working on CinemaBlend’s user experience, helping to plan the site’s editorial direction and writing passionate articles about niche entertainment topics he’s into. He graduated from Indiana University with a degree in English (go Hoosiers!) and has been interviewed and quoted in a variety of publications including Digiday. Enthusiastic about Clue, case-of-the-week mysteries, a great wrestling promo and cookies at Disney World. Less enthusiastic about the pricing structure of cable, loud noises and Tuesdays.