Jeopardy champion Brayden Smith dies at 24
"We are heartbroken to share that our dear Brayden Smith recently passed away unexpectedly," Smith's mother Debbie wrote on Twitter. "We are so grateful that Brayden was able to live out his dream on @jeopardy."
The official Jeopardy Twitter account added, "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."
Smith's appearances were some of the final Jeopardy episodes hosted by Alex Trebek, who died in November. His five-game winning streak, during which he won more than $115,000, was hailed by fans as "a final gift" to the longtime Jeopardy emcee.
"[Trebek] did, I believe, really like Brayden," executive producer Mike Richards previously told EW. "I could tell that he very much enjoyed that young man, and that was fun to watch. I think that energized him."
"The best part of it for me was spending time with [Trebek]," Smith said in an interview after his games. "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... I think back on it all the time and really savor each moment that I got to have with him."
As a five-game winner, Smith had qualified for Jeopardy's annual Tournament of Champions and anticipated returning to the show. "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 said in his postgame interview.
Born in 1996, Smith graduated from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 2020 and planned to attend law school and become an attorney for the federal government. He had recently served as an intern with the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C., where he researched criminal justice reform issues.
Smith is survived by his parents, Scott and Debbie Smith, and three brothers.