The Day People Named Josh Fought in Nebraska
A viral internet joke becomes a real-life, good-natured ‘battle’ for a lot of people with the same first name. Behind the scenes of the ‘JoshFight.’ From a report: It began as a joke, Josh Swain emphasized. Spring, a year ago. As a pandemic surged, and millions idled at home, Swain, an engineering student at the University of Arizona, was very bored online. He noted that every time he tried to create a social media account, the name Josh Swain was already taken. An amused Swain logged onto Facebook, gathered every “Josh Swain” he could find into a group message, and offered a brash challenge, which was basically this: On April 24, 2021, everyone named Josh Swain should meet at these select coordinates — 40.8223286, -96.79820002; it turned out to be farmland in Nebraska — and duel for the right to be The One and Only Josh Swain. “We fight, whoever wins gets to keep the name, everyone else has to change their name, you have a year to prepare, good luck,” Swain wrote.

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Over time, Swain’s terse, off-the-cuff, throw-down to all Josh Swains became a viral internet meme, leaping the curb from a bored joke into something quite real. The battle would broaden from Josh Swains to anyone named Josh, with Joshes from all over suggesting they, too, would come to Nebraska for a fight to be the The Only Josh. Terms of engagement were offered: they’d fight with foam pool noodles. Last Josh Standing wins. A public location was settled upon. (The original one turned out to be a private farm.) There was even a charitable angle: Supporters were asked to make contributions to the Nebraska Children’s Hospital and Medical Center Foundation, and bring an item for the local food bank. On Friday, Joshua Swain, 22, got on a plane for Nebraska. And this past Saturday, on a grassy field in Lincoln, it actually happened. Josh vs. Josh vs. Josh vs. Josh vs. Josh, in the JoshFight of the Century. “It was insane,” Swain said. “I can’t describe it. It’s so heartwarming, so incredible. It was a beautiful day.”

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