‘Jeopardy!’: Ex-Champ, ‘The Chase’ Host James Holzhauer ‘Devasted’ by Death of Brayden Smith

by Quentin Blount
Photo by Eric McCandless via Getty Images JAMES HOLZHAUER

Former Jeopardy! champ James Holzhauer took to social media on Saturday to express his condolences to the family of the late Brayden Smith. He also provided his fans and followers with a link to donate to the young star’s memorial fund.

On Friday night, Holzhauer posted a tribute to Smith, saying that he was “devastated” and calling him one of Jeopardy!’s “finest players.”

“Absolutely devastated by the tragic loss of one of Jeopardy’s finest players and Las Vegas’s finest humans,” Holzhauer wrote. “Please consider a donation to Brayden’s memorial fund for Southern Nevada students. I will match the first $10,000.”

Holzhauer also includes a link to Smith’s memorial fund. He says he will match the first $10,000 with proceeds going to Southern Nevada students.

Holzhauer is the third most-winningest Jeopardy! player ever, only behind Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings. He topped out at $2,962,216 during his time on the show. In fact, the sports gambler earned over $131,000 in just one game, beating out Roger Craig’s number. And with his incredible 32-game win streak, he holds second place for the longest streak ever.

What’s more is that Holzhauer, a well-known sports gambler, was able to turn his appearances on the show into his own successful game show career on The Chase.

Jeopardy! Issues Statement on Smith’s Death

The popular game show issued a statement on Friday regarding the death of Brayden Smith.

“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.”

Before former host Alex Trebek’s death, Smith had gone on a five-game winning streak that netted him over $115,000. Smith was a 2020 graduate from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, with a degree in economics.

It was reported that Smith died last Friday, on February 5th. In an online obituary posted by his family, they say that “Brayden attained a lifelong dream as a five-time champion on Jeopardy! He was looking forward to competing in the show’s Tournament of Champions.”

Smith was in the hospital for several days at a Southern Nevada hospital prior to his death. However, there has been no official announcement regarding the young competitor’s cause of death. All we know is that Smith passed away in his hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada. He was 24.

Further, Smith said that he was grateful for his appearance on the show in a video interview posted in January.

Jeopardy! is so much better than anything that I could have even imagined,” said Smith. “Every moment since I was last on the studio live has been a moment that I’ve been wanting to get back on there.”