Jeopardy!‘s Tournament of Champions took time out on Friday’s show to honor a champion who couldn’t be there.
Contestant Brayden Smith would’ve qualified for this year’s tournament after winning five straight games and earning more than $115,000 in winnings, becoming the last five-time champ of the Alex Trebek era. But Smith passed away in February at just 24 years old — and this year’s Tournament of Champions made sure he wasn’t forgotten.
“You’ve now met all 15 of the players who qualified for the Tournament of Champions… well, almost all,” host Buzzy Cohen said on Friday’s episode. (You can watch the full video above.) “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.”
Smith appeared in some of the last episodes taped by longtime Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek, who dubbed him “Billy Buzzsaw” for his ability to cut through the competition. (Trebek himself passed away in November of pancreatic cancer.) At the time of Smith’s death, the official Jeopardy! Twitter account said: “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.”
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