“You are probably wondering why I have gathered you all here today,” he wrote to nine fellow Josh Swains. One person quickly responded by stating the obvious: “Because we all share the same names?”
Swain responded with an unusual request: “Precisely, 4/24/2021, Josh, meet at these coordinates (40.82223286, -96.7982002),” he wrote. “We fight, whoever wins keeps the name, everyone has to change their name, you have a year to prepare, good luck.”
The Facebook post was intended purely as a joke, Swain said, but to his amazement, his name twins – and thousands of others on the internet – didn’t think he was just kidding. They actually took his request a bit seriously.
Indeed, a year after sending the original message, on the exact date specified, hundreds of people gathered in a field in Lincoln, Neb., Near the random coordinates chosen by Swain, both to view and participate in what later became known as Josh Fight. “
“When I first did the post I thought no one would show up,” Swain said. He was wrong.
He initially shared screenshots of his Facebook post on Twitter a year ago, with the caption “there can only be one”. It has gone viral, garnering thousands of shares and likes across multiple social media platforms. Some strangers took it a step further, starting a number of Josh Swain Reddit pages, which have countless memes in them.
“It was so weird when it blew up,” Swain said. Eventually, however, the buzz died down and he assumed it was the end of “Josh Fight”.
But the name battle, he soon learned, had not yet really begun.
Two months ago, out of nowhere, “people started to remember,” Swain said. Panic set in after spotting an online post from someone describing their intention to drive across the country for the event.
Swain’s reaction: “Sorry, what ?!”
Not only did her original post suddenly resurface, but the simulated event somehow evolved from a role only in Josh Swains, to an all-out battle of Josh – with no last names. .
“I never intended to continue fighting,” said Swain, who is studying civil engineering and graduating in May.
Things got serious when someone created a dedicated website with a countdown timer. Swain decided he had no choice but to book a flight from Phoenix to Lincoln for the event.
He got to a point where he knew “people were going to show up whether I was there or not,” he said. Since he inadvertently triggered the viral and unforeseen event, he felt compelled to help control it.
So he took the reins, and in the week leading up to April 24, he chopped up a few details.
Swain began by contacting the Lincoln Police Department to inform them of the event and enlisted the help of local help to pinpoint a suitable location, as it turned out that the original contact details were in fact on someone’s private property.
“I thought this would be a great way to give back, and I think anyone can support children’s health care,” said Swain, who also encouraged attendees to bring in non-perishable food for Lincoln Food. Bank.
Finally, he laid out some ground rules in a Reddit post, under the username “ACTUAL
Most importantly, he emphasized that “there will be no physical violence,” writing, “Joshs, I urge you to uphold the honor of the name and be good stewards of this event.” He went on to describe the rules for what he called a “Pool Noodle Battle Royale,” in which only people with the first name Josh would be allowed to participate. He also urged everyone to wear masks.
After a lot of anticipation, it was finally time for Josh Fight – also known as Josh Battle Royale and Josh vs. Josh vs. Josh.
After catching a flight the day before (he actually met fellow Josh on the plane, who was also traveling for the event), Swain showed up at the designated battlefield – a large public field – donning a shirt with his name on it. He had arrived two hours earlier to organize himself, he said, and already a crowd was starting to form.
“This is going to be crazy,” Swain recalls, thinking to himself.
He did not know, however, that by noon the field would be inundated with hundreds of Joshes and their followers.
“There were over 1,000 people,” Swain estimated, adding that the participants were between around 4 and 40 years old, and some were from Washington, Florida, New Jersey, Kentucky, Texas. and elsewhere across the country.
Josh Redwine, 35, a local Lincoln photographer who heard about the event on Facebook, decided to check it out.
“I was surprised at how big it was,” he said.
“It was really weird. Everyone was really happy; it was like a group of kids on a playground, just having fun, ”said Redwine. “I haven’t seen this kind of positivity in a while. It was very cool.”
After Swain made opening remarks, he and another Josh Swain faced off in a passionate game of paper-and-stone scissors. Arizona Josh Swain ultimately defeated Omaha Josh Swain.
Then it was time for the main event.
A sea of people named Josh wielding colorful foam pool noodles clashed for over 10 minutes, until finally there was only one Josh standing: Joshua Vinson Jr., 4, of Lincoln.
Once it was clear that he was the winner, “I ran with the megaphone, and I was like, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, this is your champion,'” said Swain. “It was that incredible moment.”
The crowd cheered as the boy – whom everyone called Little Josh – was hoisted in the air wearing an oversized Burger King crown and clutching his gun, a red pool noodle.
“I beat everyone!” Little Josh said in a phone interview with the Washington Post.
ua Vinson Sr., said it was something his son will never forget.
“We had a blast. Little Josh came out victorious, ”said Vinson Sr., who stumbled upon the event on Facebook. “He was hit several times, but he didn’t fall.
Beyond Little Josh’s unanticipated victory, he said, fundraising was especially important for the father-son duo Josh, as Joshua Jr. was treated by the Children’s Hospital for seizures. sudden at the age of 18 months.
“It really seemed significant that the money was donated to the hospital,” said Vinson Sr. “The story came full circle with Little Josh.”
For Swain, the fundraising aspect of Josh Fight was also the most important: “So many different types of people came to the event, but everyone had the same mindset and the same goal: to have fun, be safe and fundraise, “he said.
People also brought over 100 pounds of food to the Lincoln Food Bank.
“There were four wagons full of food,” said Betsy Walker, 20, a volunteer who helped coordinate the food drive. “It was very empowering to be a part of.”
Overall – to Swain’s shock and relief – Josh Fight has been a huge success.
“People loved it. Everything went off without a hitch, ”he said, adding that he stayed three hours after the event to pose for photos with people – many of them had signs and were dressed in funny costumes.
“It was a tough year and I think everyone needed something like this. It was such a healthy event, there is nothing negative about it, ”Swain said. “That’s what made it so spectacular.”
“We’ll see what happens,” he continued. “We may have to make it an annual thing.”