As Jeopardy approaches Alex Trebek‘s final episodes, the show is celebrating its late host the only way it knows how: with a stellar, James Holzhauer-like contestant. For the past three days, Las Vegas native Brayden Smith has dominated the competition, prompting fans to crown him “Alex’s last champion.” Aw!
Smith, a policy intern from Las Vegas, Nevada, first made his Jeopardy debut on Tuesday, December 15, and in the days since, his lead has never been in (sorry) jeopardy. The contestant collected $31,000 in his first outing, followed by $35,000 and $27,800 in games two and three, respectively, bringing his three-day total to $93,800 as of last night.
Through it all, Smith has consistently hunted out the Daily Doubles, and he hasn’t been afraid to wager big when it comes time for Final Jeopardy. Last night, the policy intern wagered $8,600, almost four times as much as his two co-contestants, but ultimately ended up missing the question. No matter: with a lead of $36,400 to $7,000 to $2,200 heading into Final Jeopardy, Smith could afford to wager big and still win the game. Sound familiar?
On Thursday night, Trebek praised Smith’s performance, and he seemed genuinely thrilled to have a big-time player on the set. “What a week this is turning out to be on Jeopardy,” said Trebek at the beginning of the episode (per Yahoo). But then, he caught himself: “So I’m not gonna say anything that might risk jinxing it.”
Later, Trebek highlighted Smith’s ability to find Daily Doubles, saying, “I don’t think you’ve missed any of the Daily Doubles you’ve uncovered. And you’ve uncovered all of them in the games in which you’ve competed.”
Trebek’s obvious delight gave Jeopardy fans a glimmer of hope in this dark time, and many felt that Brayden Smith was meant to appear in the host’s last few episodes. “I’d like to think that Brayden was a final gift to Alex Trebek. He loved a great champion,” wrote one viewer. “It makes me really happy that Alex Trebek got a contestant like Brayden on some of his last shows,” said another.
If Brayden Smith’s win streak continues, he very well could be Alex Trebek’s final Jeopardy champion. After tonight’s episode, Jeopardy will be airing a two-week “Around the World” special honoring Trebek’s spirit of adventure. The “Around the World” episodes will air from Monday, December 21 through January 1, and on Monday, January 4, Jeopardy will air Trebek’s final week of episodes.
Jeopardy airs every weeknight at 7/6c on ABC. To find the exact time and channel in your area, head to the Jeopardy website.
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