In the midst of their yearly Tournament of Champions, Jeopardy! is paying tribute to a late contestant who was to be in the tournament.
Brayden Smith, winner of five straight Jeopardy! matches last year, qualified to participate in this year’s tournament. Smith, only 24-years-old at the time of his passing, recorded five shows last October before Alex Trebek passed away. Social media users say the young man was Trebek’s “last great champion” before his death on November 8 last year. Smith’s winning episodes aired in December and he passed away earlier this year on February 5 after a surgical procedure.
Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions guest host Buzzy Cohen used his personal Twitter account to honor the late champion.
Remembering this authentic and brilliant champion who would have joined us this week… https://t.co/bWQc8RUJxf— Buzzy Cohen (@buzztronics) May 21, 2021
“Remembering this authentic and brilliant champion who would have joined us this week,” Cohen says in the social media post.
Jeopardy! Will Donate to Brayden Smith Fund
Cohen also recorded a short video announcing Jeopardy! would be making a donation to a fund in Brayden Smith’s name.
“You have now met all 15 of the players qualifying for the Tournament of Champions — well, almost all of them,” Cohen says in the video. “Brayden Smith, the incredible young man who won five shows and $115,000 in January, passed away earlier this year. Brayden’s family has established a fund in his name and Jeopardy! will be donating to that fund. We want to express our best wishes and condolences to his family.”
During his five-game winning streak, Smith collected more than $115,000 from his Jeopardy! matches. He even earned a nickname from Trebek, who dubbed him “Billy Buzzsaw” for his competitive nature. Smith was one of numerous past Jeopardy! contestants to appear in a video paying tribute to the longtime host. In the video, he says getting to meet Trebek was the highlight of his time on the show.
Cohen has a done a terrific job as host of the annual Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions and he will continue through next week. Cohen won the Tournament of Champions in 2017 and returned in 2019 as a Jeopardy! all-star.
The tournament will soon begin its next round of play with the show’s semifinalists set to square off against each other. Only the best of the best Jeopardy! champions are invited to return for the Tournament of Champions. The stakes are extremely high as contestants compete for a $250,000 grand prize.