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‘Jeopardy!’ Champion, 24, Underwent Surgery Prior To Death

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Five-time Jeopardy! winner Brayden Smith underwent surgery in the days before his death Feb. 5, KLAS-TV in Las Vegas reported.

Smith, 24, had surgery for an undisclosed condition, KLAS reported his family as revealing. The Las Vegas Review-Journal also reported that Smith had spent time in a Southern Nevada hospital prior to his death.

Neither KLAS not the Review-Journal specified the reasons for Smith’s hospital stay.

“Smith’s five-game winning streak, in which he won more than $115,000, was taped in October but aired in December,” Deadline reported. “(Jeopardy! host) Alex Trebek, who had dubbed the quick-moving Smith as ‘Billy Buzzsaw,’ died Nov. 8.”

Prior to appearing on Jeopardy!, Smith graduated from UNLV in 2020 with a degree in economics, his sights set on attending law school and becoming a federal government attorney. He recently served as an intern at the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C., researching criminal just reform issues.

“Brayden attained a lifelong dream as a five-time champion on the popular Jeopardy! television game show,” according to a family-penned obituary. “His appearances were among the last hosted by Alex Trebek, and Brayden was hailed on social media as ‘Alex’s Last Great Champion.’ He was looking forward to competing in the show’s Tournament of Champions.”

Written by Sam Amico

Sam Amico spent 15 years covering the NBA for Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports and NBA.com, along with a few other spots, and currently runs his own basketball website on the side, FortyEightMinutes.com.

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