'South Park Guy' Cosplayer Jarod Nandin Dies from COVID-19

Gamer Jarod Nandin -- known by fans as "South Park Guy" for re-creating the show's infamous World of Warcraft character -- has died after contracting the coronavirus.

Nandin died Sunday ... according to the WoW outlet, Wowhead. Jarod revealed his condition in mid-December, and on Dec. 22 he shared a photo of himself from the hospital saying he tested positive, but didn't seem overly concerned.

He wrote ... "I’m really sorry to worry you guys. I’m in the hospital getting treatment. Things look good. Im just looking at Covid with a sh*t eating grin on my face and saying: "How do you Kill that which...has no Life?"

Nandin, who famously went by NWBZPWNR in the role-playing game's community, used this sense of humor to make a big splash at BlizzCon 2013.

Jarod arrived at the event cosplaying as the slobby 'Warcraft' gamer on the Season 10 episode of "South Park" titled, "Make Love, Not Warcraft."

He even shaved his head to re-create the guy's baldness and clearly ... he nailed the entire look.

After that ... Jarod affectionately became known as "South Park Guy" in the gaming community, and today many are tweeting their condolences and tributes to him.

Jarod was 40.

RIP

Twitch Bans Confederate Flag New Hateful Conduct Policy

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Twitch -- one of the biggest live streaming gaming platforms on the planet -- is following NASCAR's lead ... and officially BANNING the Confederate flag.

The streaming giant announced its updated Hateful Conduct and Harassment Policy will go into effect on Jan. 22 ... in hopes to sustain a more inclusive environment.

"Communities on Twitch are diverse and are growing rapidly, representing nearly every interest, background, and language around the globe," Twitch said in a statement Wednesday.

"As we evolve, it’s necessary to revisit and update policies to make sure all streamers and all communities can create together safely on Twitch."

The platform added ... "We know that many people on Twitch -- particularly women, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, Black, Indigenous, and people of color --unfortunately continue to experience a disproportionate amount of harassment and abuse online, including on our service."

"Not only is this blatantly unacceptable, it also undermines the community we’re building on Twitch and threatens the long term viability of streaming as a career for everyone who wishes to pursue it."

Twitch specifically notes the Confederate flag will not be allowed on its platform, citing its "historic and symbolic association with slavery and white supremacist groups in the US."

As we previously reported ... NASCAR announced its decision to ban the Confederate flag after Bubba Wallace publicly called for its removal from events ... saying, "No one should feel uncomfortable when they come to a NASCAR race."

Among other prohibited actions on Twitch include repeatedly making unwelcomed comments on a user's attractiveness or sexuality, as well as sending unsolicited nude pics and videos.

Twitch is also reiterating its ban on black/brown/yellow/redface "unless they are being used in an explicitly educational context."

'Jeopardy!' Ken Jennings Will Guest Host!!! After Final Alex Episodes

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"Jeopardy!" will have a series of interim guest hosts following Alex Trebek's passing and first up is the show's 'Greatest of All Time' ... Ken Jennings.

Sony Pictures announced the move Monday to make the fan-favorite the first guest host. More guests will be announced in the weeks to come but for now, it's Ken first up at the podium.

Mike Richards, the show's executive producer, said the franchise "will honor Alex's legacy by continuing to produce the game he loved with smart contestants and challenging clues." He added, "By bringing in familiar guest hosts for the foreseeable future, our goal is to create a sense of community and continuity for our viewers."

Ken also chimed in after the news was announced ... fittingly saying, "there will only ever be one Alex Trebek."

Alex died a few weeks ago after battling stage 4 pancreatic cancer -- but all-new episodes with him hosting will continue to air until Christmas Day ... and "best of" episodes will air until December 28.

Ken's first taping will come on November 30 when the show resumes production. He's already etched his name in "Jeopardy!" lore thanks to his 74-game winning streak. Ken also took home an all-time record in regular-season play with a whopping $2.52 million in earnings -- and earlier this year he won the 'Greatest of All Time' tournament.

No word on when the show will announce a permanent host. The guest hosts buy Sony some time.

Alex Trebek Dead at 80

Alex Trebek -- the revered and beloved "Jeopardy!" host since 1984, whose calm but witty presence was must-see television for millions of Americans -- has died ... TMZ has learned.

A "Jeopardy!" spokesperson tells TMZ, "Jeopardy is saddened to share that Alex Trebek passed away peacefully at home early this morning, surrounded by family and friends."

The TV icon had been battling stage 4 pancreatic cancer since announcing the news back in March 2019. He immediately started chemo after the diagnosis but made no plans to retire and continued hosting his game show ... as impressively as ever.

I WON'T STOP FIGHTING
@Jeopardy

Trebek powered through for a full year -- despite what he called "massive attacks of great depression that made me wonder if it was really worth fighting on" -- because he said he realized giving up on life would be a betrayal to his wife, God and other cancer patients.

He pointed out the odds of surviving a second year with pancreatic cancer were just 7 percent, but he hoped he'd be able to celebrate that milestone too. Sadly, he took a turn for the worse.

Alex continued to host "Jeopardy!" ... recently beginning his 37th season, and earlier this year, he shot the epic 'Greatest of All Time' tournament on prime-time television.

THE BATTLE GOES ON
JEOPARDY!

Ken Jennings, who won that 'G.O.A.T.' tournament reacted to Alex's passing, saying, "Alex wasn't just the best ever at what he did. He was also a lovely and deep decent man, and I'm grateful for every minute I got to spend with him."

Ken's competitor James Holzhauer added, "It was one of the great privileges of my life to spend time with this courageous man while he fought the battle of his life. You will never be replaced in our hearts, Alex."

"Jeopardy!" says Alex hosted episodes will air through December 25th. His last day taping in the studio was October 29.

The shows executive producer, Mike Richards, says, "Working beside him for the past year and a half as he heroically continued to host "Jeopardy!" was an incredible honor. His belief in the importance of the show and his willingness to push himself to perform at the highest level was the most inspiring demonstration of courage I have ever seen."

After his initial diagnosis, there were several ups and downs for Alex. In May 2019, he announced his tumors had shrunk more than 50 percent, obviously a great sign of progress, but his numbers declined and he began another round of chemotherapy a few months later. Still, he maintained a positive outlook ... and did a lot of good throughout his ordeal.

His soothing and reassuring voice was on display when he announced having cancer. Trebek -- who was signed to host the show through 2022 -- joked, "Truth told, I have to! Because under the terms of my contract, I have to host 'Jeopardy!' for three more years!"

His commitment to the game show was a two-way street. When Alex took a brief medical leave in 2018 to have surgery for blood clots on his brain after a nasty fall, "Jeopardy!" never aired episodes with a guest host. He also suffered mild heart attacks in 2007 and 2012.

Alex started his career on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in 1961 announcing the news, and quickly gained fame after hosting the high school quiz show, "Reach for the Top."

He introduced himself to U.S. audiences in 1973 when he hosted a new NBC show called "The Wizard of Odds." That would lead to work on a variety of game shows ... including "High Rollers" with his trademark curly hair and classic 'stache and a brief fill-in stint for Chuck Woolery on "Wheel of Fortune."

Then, when the "Jeopardy!" gig -- a revival of the old show -- came up, Alex got the call.

The show gained immense popularity with Alex at the helm ... dominating the evening game show biz along with 'Wheel.'

Alex -- winner of 6 Daytime Emmy Awards for outstanding game show host -- set a Guinness World record in June 2014 for most episodes (6,829) of a game show hosted. Despite his unprecedented and hugely successful run, Alex never viewed himself as a celeb or the "star" of the show. He said as much to Harvey Levin for an episode on "Objectified."

JULY 2018
NEVER ONE FOR THE SPOTLIGHT
OBJECTIFIED

Alex also told Levin he was seriously considering retirement before signing a contract extension. He seemed serious at the time ... naming 2 potential replacements: L.A. Kings announcer Alex Faust and CNN legal analyst Laura Coates.

Important to note ... "Jeopardy!" producers say they are not announcing a new host right now.

Trebek was born on July 22, 1940, in Ontario, Canada. He majored in philosophy at the University of Ottawa but he had serious ambitions about a career on TV. He became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1998, but not before running the Olympic Torch in 1996 as it made its way to Atlanta.

LAST TIME WE SAW HIM ...
TMZ.com

Alex -- who was named an officer of the Order of Canada in 2017 for his iconic achievements -- married Elaine Kares in 1974 and they divorced in 1981. He married again in 1990 ... this time to Jean Currivan, with whom he had 2 children ... Matthew and Emily.

He was 80.

RIP

Cody Bellinger Video Game Treatment After WS Win ... I'm In Assassin's Creed!!!

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Cody Bellinger's 2020 is SO MUCH BETTER than yours ... 'cause just a few days after he won the World Series -- he got put into a big role in an uber-popular video game!!

The L.A. Dodgers superstar announced Wednesday he'll be a character in the newest installment of the Assassin's Creed series ... and his avatar looks awesome!!

Bellinger says his in-game character will be named Otta Sluggasson ... and, of course, the game-version of Belli will wield a big, spiked baseball bat and wear eyeblack.

Belli and the creators of the game, Ubisoft North America, released footage of the outfielder in the creating process of the avatar ... and it ain't hard to see Cody loved all of it.

Bellinger tested out weapons, got his face scanned, and even did a voiceover for the role!

As for a description of the virtual Bellinger ... video game creators say Otta is a "Dane with a knack for hitting rocks very very far."

Checks out to us!

The game is set to drop next week ... congrats on all the success Cody. At least someone's enjoying 2020.

Former Rapper Logic Drops $226k on Pokemon Card!!!

Former rapper Logic dropped an insane amount of loot for a Pokemon card -- more than a quarter-of-a-million bucks!!!

The card in question .. a super-rare, first edition Charizard. Pokemon trading cards have skyrocketed in value over the last few years. Back in 1999, when Pokemon became a thing, the card had almost no value ... now you can buy a house for the cost of a prized card.

As for how much Logic paid ... a whopping $226,000!!! It broke the record for Nintendo collectibles.

There have been other gigantic purchases in the world of Nintendo and Pokemon. Logan Paul plunked down $216k for a base set booster box.

As for what makes Logic's card so rare ... It's shadowless ... meaning the typical shadow on the right side of the art is absent.

A house or a card ... you choose.

Odell Beckham Shows Off New Xbox Series X One Month Before Release!!!

Breaking News

File Under: Perks Of Being Rich and Famous.

Cleveland Browns superstar Odell Beckham's already got his hands on the new Xbox Series X ... which is pretty unfair, considering the damn thing doesn't hit shelves until next month!!!

OBJ showed off his new toy on Thursday ... and while he didn't say how he got it, he got his point across with a few emojis -- "🤐🤫🤯"

The new Xbox will become available to the non-VIP public on November 10 ... but when you're Odell Beckham, you ain't gotta wait like the rest of us normies.

Beckham's not the only one getting special treatment ... Travis Scott made heads explode when he bragged about having a PlayStation 5, which launches on Nov. 12.

Waiting for your permission to load the Instagram Media.

No word on Odell's review of the Xbox just yet ... we can only imagine how dope it's gonna be.

It's been a great week for OBJ, who's coming off a MONSTER game against the Dallas Cowboys ... with 2 touchdowns off of insane trick plays.

Lucky guy!!

Colin Kaepernick Added to Madden '21 Video Game ... Rated Higher Than Cam Newton

Exclusive Details

Colin Kaepernick is back in the NFL -- in the Madden '21 video game ... where he's now a playable QB with a higher rating than Cam Newton and Baker Mayfield.

"Colin Kaepernick is one of the top free agents in football and a starting caliber quarterback," EA Sports said in a statement.

"Our team at EA Sports along with millions of Madden NFL fans wanted to see him back in the game."

EA Sports says fans can use Colin as a QB in Franchise Mode -- and play with him starting Tuesday, Sept. 8.

We look forward to seeing Colin on Madden NFL teams.

We're told Colin's overall raying is an 81 -- a number EA says is based on Kap's "prior on the field performance, combined with our data-driven EA Sports rating simulations."

The company says the rating takes into account "he has not taken the field since 2016."

"When Kaepernick was a healthy starting quarterback he was rated 89, 89, 81 overall and known for his strong touchdown-to-interception ratio, mobility, and playoff performances."

There's more ... Kap also has a signature TD celebration -- a raised fist, which players can activate after a score.

EA also notes that Colin is the top-rated free agent QB in their game.

And, with his 81 rating, Kap ranks higher than Derek Carr,  Ryan Tannehill, Josh Allen and even Kyler Murray.

EA Sports also acknowledges a past issue with Kaepernick involving a song on the Madden ’19 soundtrack in which Kap’s name was edited out. The QB’s people worked with EA Sports — and now both sides say it’s been resolved and it’s all water under the bridge.

'Jeopardy!" Season 37 to Debut with Trebek, Jennings

"Jeopardy!" will look different for Season 37 ... new set, new talent, but worry not, because Alex is back!!!

Ken Jennings, the all-time, winningest contestant, will put his mug in front of the camera, challenging new contestants by reading answers from various categories.  He'll also be a consulting producer and he'll help develop new projects.

There will also be a COVID-safe new set for the Sept. 14 rollout.

As for Alex, it's great news. He's responding well to his cancer treatments and is approaching the 2-year survival mark.

Alex feels good enough that he may be going stir-crazy cooped up at home, saying, “I believe we are the first quiz show to come back on the air in the COVID-19 era. On a personal level, I’m excited because it gets me out of the house. It gives me something to do on a regular basis, and I was missing that.”

Good news is hard to come by these days, so this is great news.

NBA's Ben Simmons Competing in FaZe Clan's Call of Duty Tourney ... On Twitch Rivals

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It may be the offseason for Ben Simmons, but the NBA superstar is getting right back into competition mode ... taking part in a HUGE Call of Duty tournament backed by FaZe Clan.

TMZ Sports has learned ... Simmons -- who recently invested in FaZe Clan -- is part of a celeb-packed lineup for the "Twitch Rivals: FaZe Face-Off Ft. Warzone" event going down on September 17.

Simmons -- AKA "FaZe Simmo" will join big names like Marshmello, Slim Jxmmi, Carnage, Lil Durk, Bulls star Zach LaVine and USWNT Allie Long in the Call of Duty competition, which is the first event from FaZe Clan's new series with the Twitch Rivals streaming service.

The competition will also feature FaZe Clan regulars like FaZe Apex, FaZe Rug, NICKMERCS, FaZe Temperrr, and FaZe SWAGG ... as well as a bunch of other well-known streamers.

The event will consist of up to 20 teams of 4 players ... who will compete for a prize pool of $75,000!

It's been a big year for FaZe Clan ... the org. just wrapped up tournament for the game Valorant -- which was viewed online more than 5.2 MILLION times!

Oh yeah, and Bronny James just joined the squad!!!

Not everyone's having a terrible 2020 ...

Biden-Harris Campaign Rolls Out Merch on Animal Crossing 'JOE' Signs for Your Island!!!

Breaking News

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are breaking into the digital space like never before ... infiltrating Animal Crossing to reach a younger demographic, which is kinda genius.

The Biden-Harris campaign linked up with Nintendo to make some virtual merch available for the first time on their uber-popular game Tuesday, which 'New Horizons' users can now cop. IYKYK ... frankly, AC folks are always looking for new ways to spruce up their islands.

Among some of the items you can now swoop up -- via specific QR codes -- are three different Joe Biden campaign signs, which you can throw out onto your in-game lawn, PLUS ... an American flag-themed aviator glasses sign, which is another signature Biden token.

Of course, you can customize your character's look -- and some folks have recreated Kamala and Joe in the game itself. So yeah, your island can now feature some political ideologies ... something Animal Crossing hadn't broached before.

A rep for the campaign says they wanted to take advantage of a platform that literally reaches millions and which facilitates community. They add, "As we enter the final campaign stretch towards November, this is one way we are finding new creative and innovative ways to meet voters where they are and bring our supporters together."

The campaign also recruited some top gaming influencers to plug the new Biden-Harris merch on Animal Crossing this week. The saying used to be ... seize the day, now ya gotta seize the technology too.

Bronny James Not 'Signed' to Faze Clan 'Does Not Have a Contract'

Exclusive Details

4:17 PM PT -- Bronny James never formally put pen to paper to join the legendary FaZe Clan ... a rep confirms he is not actually "signed" to the team, but is still very much a member.

So, what does it mean? Great question ...

Here's what we know ... Bronny is only 15 years old and a basketball prodigy with hopes of playing in college and also the NBA.

Signing a contract with an organization like FaZe Clan could possibly be an issue that affects his eligibility, if he's compensated -- and if the NCAA believes was he was signed because of his prowess as an athlete.

We reached out to FaZe Clan and a rep told us matter of factly -- "Bronny isn't 'signed' to FaZe Clan."

"He does not have a contract with FaZe Clan."

Instead, the relationship was explained to us this way ...

"He joined as our newest member. It's a very authentic relationship that developed between FaZe talent and Bronny directly."

"As an avid gamer himself, Bronny developed a relationship with FaZe talent over time playing CoD, Fortnite, NBA2K and more at a high skill level, and often with other FaZe members. Everyone is incredibly excited to have him as our newest member."

Bottom line -- no contract should, in theory, mean no issues with eligibility at the high school or college level when it comes to Bronny's hoops career.

It seems to be more of an unofficial, casual "membership" -- not a professional one.

Bronny James is taking his talents to the sticks by joining the world-famous FaZe Clan ... and his superstar father is giving his stamp of approval!!

The move was announced Sunday ... with the 15-year-old H.S. hoops prodigy getting a big introduction from the pro Esports group.

"He's got n̶e̶x̶t̶ now.⁣ Join us in welcoming @bronny to FaZe Clan 👑⁣" the post said on IG ... featuring a pic of James decked out in FaZe gear and a chain of the team's logo.

The Sierra Canyon star is an avid gamer off the court, playing games like Fortnite and Call of Duty.

But, don't get it twisted -- Bronny made his intentions clear shortly after the news broke, saying he's still focused on the bigger picture.

"Me joining faze don't change anything," Bronny said. "I'm still locked, coming for heads."

LeBron echoed his son's message, saying, "Straight Up Simba!"

Of course, the Lakers superstar has always talked about his dream of playing alongside his oldest in the NBA ... and it seems he's not worried about video games taking away from that possibility.

The Bronny news comes one week after superstar Ben Simmons also joined forces with FaZe as an investor ... adding to a list of celeb-backers like JuJu Smith-Schuster, Offset and Swae Lee.

Originally published -- 7:53 AM PT

NBA 2K21 Kobe Bryant Mural Revealed ... In Neighborhood

Breaking News

The Kobe Bryant tributes continue to roll in for the newest edition of NBA 2K ... with the late Lakers legend receiving the mural treatment in the game's "neighborhood."

As we previously reported, the Black Mamba's presence will be heavy in NBA 2K21, which drops next week ... with a "Mamba Forever" edition featuring Bryant on two different covers for the current and next-gen consoles.

Fellow cover athlete Damian Lillard also teamed up with Snoop Dogg and Derrick Milano to make a song about Kobe for the game's soundtrack.

2K Sports revealed yet another tribute for Bryant in a new teaser Friday ... displaying a mural in his honor while showing off the game's new Neighborhood -- "2K Beach," a play off Venice Beach.

For those who aren't hip to the game, the Neighborhood is where players can go to play against other gamers, improve their avatar and participate in other events.

Of course, Bryant was a big part of 2K's success for years ... and was featured on the cover numerous times.

The tribute adds to the many murals that popped up in the real world following Kobe and daughter Gianna's death ... and is a nice gesture from 2K.

NHL's Mitch Marner Buys Ownership In Esports Group

Breaking News

Toronto Maple Leafs superstar Mitch Marner is putting his fat, new contract to good use ... by investing in a major Esports company!!

TMZ Sports has learned ... 23-year-old Marner -- who just inked a 6-year, $65 million deal -- is following The Weeknd's lead in becoming a part-owner of OverActive Media, a company that has pro Overwatch and Call of Duty teams based in the 6.

The Leafs winger is an avid gamer when he's not on the ice ... making it a business move he's really passionate about.

"Over the past few months, I’ve live-streamed with several Toronto Ultra players and built some great friendships with the team at OverActive," Marner says. "As a gamer, my investment is an opportunity to join one of the best global esports organizations and to help bridge the gap between hockey fans and esports."

"I’m looking forward to working with the players and the front office to introduce the Toronto Ultra and Toronto Defiant to a young audience of traditional sport fans."

OverActive CEO Chris Overholt added ... "With roots in the city of Toronto, our entire organization is thrilled to welcome a hometown hero and hockey superstar like Mitch Marner to our investor family,"

"Mitch's authenticity within the Call of Duty scene and his interest in growing the esports industry will be such great additions to our fan base and to each of our franchises."

Mitch is a rising star in the NHL -- he's the 8th-highest paid player in the league and was the 4th overall pick in the 2015 Draft.

Pro Gamer Karma Admits 'PTSD' After Lightning Strike ... 'Loud Noises Scared Me'

Exclusive
STRUCK OUTTA NOWHERE
TMZSports.com

Karma -- the pro gamer who was struck by lightning while streaming on Twitch -- says she's no longer in physical pain ... but admits she's suffering a little "PTSD" after the crazy incident.

27-year-old Jaime Bickford was INSIDE her Boston-area home Sunday night commenting on a game of "Rocket League" when lightning struck ... and somehow, she got hit.

You can watch the live stream and HEAR the moment of impact -- it's really scary stuff.

THE SHOCKING MOMENT
Karmaah/Twitch

Bickford tells TMZ Sports she's still not 100% sure how she got hit -- saying, "It all happened really fast."

"I was just commenting over this game and then a huge flash came out of my controller, like really bright," Bickford says.

"I just remember my hands burning and my body just automatically dropped the controller."

Bickford says her hands were sore for the next 2 days. But there was also mental trauma.

"I definitely had PTSD about it the day after -- just loud noises scared me. There was still thunderstorms the next day so I didn't want to touch the game just 'cause it freaked me out."

Don't get it twisted ... Bickford says she's definitely NOT walking away from gaming -- telling TMZ Sports she's worked too damn hard to quit.

As for the controller she had been using -- that's toast.

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