On April 24, 2020, a Tucson, Arizona resident civil engineering student by the name of Josh Swain created a group on Messenger to which he added a number of other users who were also named Josh Swain. No warning was given, but he very quickly gained the interest of not only the other members of the group, but the entire internet, with a single line.
“You’re probably wondering why I’ve gathered you all here today.”
The first to reply was Josh Swain. “Because we all share the same name?,” he asked. Josh was quick to respond. “Precisely,” he said, and then laid down a challenge to every Josh Swain in existence (with the exception of one Josh Swain, who left the Facebook Messenger group immediately).
The rules were simple. One year from that day, every Josh Swain would meet at some set coordinates (40.8223286, -96.7982002) at Air Park in Lincoln, Nebraska. Joshes who fell in battle would be required to change their names, and the last Josh would be deemed the “One True Josh”, allowed to keep the name for themselves. Initially, this was the full extent of the challenge, limited just to those named Josh Swain. However, things went much, much further than intended when someone (presumably Josh) took a screenshot of the initial invitation and posted it online. As is to be expected, when the internet gets ahold of something, it garners occasional and selective extreme attention. Over the course of the following year, that screenshot of the first Josh Swain invitation blew up online. The Facebook group Fun Things With Depressed People posted it to some acclaim, followed by a reposting on the subreddit /r/GoodFakeTexts, despite the text actually being real.
By the time almost a full year had passed, the Josh Fight had garnered a metric ton of online attention and hype. The coordinates for the event were registered on gps-coordinates.net, more and more referential memes were created, and eventually culminated in the creation of /r/JoshSwainBattle, a subreddit dedicated entirely to planning for, talking about, and generally involving the Josh Fight, as well as joshvsjoshvsjosh.com, a site with a timer counting down the moments until the beginning of chaos. However, there was one small hiccup before the fight could commence.
Turns out, Air Park is private property, and the owners, while amused, weren’t too ecstatic about their land being used as a battleground for hundreds of Joshes. An image depicting a wooden palette at the initial location with instructions to relocate the fight to a new location (40.8654791, -96.7842755) where four days later, a collective army of Joshes would fight amongst themselves. Josh Swain, the founder of the original Josh Swain group, went online to inform people that not only would he be attending and expect them to bring pool noodles as weaponry, but also that the same day at the same park there would be a charity drive run by Food Bank of Lincoln.
When the day finally arrived, an epic battle was waged. Hundreds of Joshes laid down their lives (in a non-fatal manner, of course), Joshes fought Joshes, people who weren’t Joshes took pictures and video, “Josh” trended on Twitter, and ultimately, one Josh was declared the victor. Five-year-old Josh Vinson Jr., nicknamed “Little Josh” on the spot, was told he was the “One True Josh”, obtained the glory of the ultimate battle, and was given a Burger King crown to anoint him officially in the presence of the world. The true Josh Swain who originally started the whole thing has raised $13,929 (at the current time of writing) for the Children’s Hospital & Medical Center in Nebraska, which fittingly enough also treated Little Josh when he was younger. All in all, a surprisingly productive and wholesome meetup for a battle to the death.
And so, I now ask,
to every DeForest White:
I’ll take you all on.