Jeopardy! took time to honor a champion who isn’t playing in the Tournament of Champions.
Brayden Smith, who won five straight Jeopardy! matches, was to participate in this year’s Tournament of Champions. But the 24-year-old tragically passed away earlier this year following a surgical procedure. Smith was dubbed “Billy Buzzsaw” by late Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek for his competitiveness when competing on the show last year.
Many consider Smith to be Trebek’s “last great champion” as he recorded his episode last year before Trebek passed away. Brayden passed away a few short months later on February 5. During his winning streak, Smith was able to accumulate more than $115,000 in winnings. He was also expected to be a prime contender on the show’s Tournament of Champions.
Jeopardy! took to social media on Friday to pay tribute to Smith and his accomplishments on the show.
“In honor of Brayden Smith, Jeopardy! is donating to his family’s fund created in his name,” the Instagram post states. “He will be deeply missed.”
‘Jeopardy!’ Donates to Brayden Smith Fund
The 24-second clip features Tournament of Champions host Buzzy Cohen making the announcement of the Jeopardy! donation.
“You have now met all 15 of the players qualifying for the Tournament of Champions — well, almost all of them,” Cohen says. “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.”
Upon Trebek’s passing, Smith was one of several Jeopardy! contestants appearing in a tribute video. He said getting to spend time with Trebek was the best part of his appearance on the show.
The annual Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions rolled on this week with the next round set to begin in the near future.
The Jeopardy! tournament will conclude next Friday, which also marks the end of Cohen’s guest-hosting tenure. Buzzy has been an excellent host for the show and appears to have the backing of many fans. He will likely receive consideration for the permanent gig once Jeopardy! producers travel down that path.
Waiting in the wings for her guest-hosting stint is “Big Bang Theory” and “Blossom” actress Mayim Bialik. She will be followed by journalist Savannah Guthrie as guest host.