At the height of the novel coronavirus pandemic last year, college student Josh Swain got bored and decided to have some fun on social media.
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After years of trying to register for online accounts using his full name only to find out the name was already taken, Josh jokingly picked a fight with all the other Josh Swains of the world.
“You’re probably wondering why I’ve gathered you all here today,” he wrote to the other Josh Swains.
The fun could have ended there since only a few people replied to his message. Instead, a still frame of the Facebook chat went viral and took on a life of its own over the course of the next few months.
“It was entirely a joke,” Josh said, but as followers of the Josh throw down grew and more adults received COVID-19 vaccinations, the Tucson, Arizona, engineering student decided to make a real event happen! He picked a location in the middle of the U.S. somewhat randomly and told all the other Joshes to show up for a huge pool noodle battle to determine the rightful owner of the name “Josh.”
“I did not expect people to be as adamant about this as they are right now,” Josh said. “I didn’t expect the whole internet to take it and start contacting every ‘Josh’ they knew.”
Finally, on April 24, 2021, hundreds of people named Josh showed up at an Air Park in Lincoln, Nebraska, to duke it out to be the one true Josh. The event started with a “grueling and righteous” battle of Rock, Paper, Scissors between the original Josh and another Josh Swain from Omaha, Nebraska. From there, the pool noodles came out!
To sweeten the deal for participants and add a charitable aspect to this fun-loving event, the original Josh asked people to make donations to Children’s Hospital and Medical Center and bring donations for a local food bank. Together, the Joshes managed to raise over $12,000 and counting – and brought in piles of food!
The #JoshFight and @joshswainaz raised all of this food for the @FoodBankLincoln and raised over $8,000 for @ChildrensOmaha.– Yousef Nasser (@YousefKLKN) April 25, 2021
You can contribute to the Children’s Hospital here:https://t.co/AP7NxBd8nK pic.twitter.com/NVEPXJPfdT
At the end of the Josh Battle Royale, there could be only one winner, and it wasn’t the person you might have expected. The true champion was Josh Vinson Jr., or “Little Josh.” The adorable 4-year-old, whose weapon of choice was a bright red pool noodle, was the last Josh standing!
As the crowd cheered, Little Josh told a reporter, “I fight everyone!” They placed a far-too-large Burger King crown on his head and handed him a gilded belt, then lifted him onto their shoulders.
While Little Josh was said to be 5 at the time, his dad, who is also named Josh, later clarified that he’s still 4.
The original Josh later found out that Little Josh’s win was especially poignant for him and his family. The 4-year-old had been a patient in the hospital himself after suffering seizures at age 2, so the fact that he could help raise money to support other kids was meant to be!
What a fun way to bring people together! Share this story to thank all of the Joshes of the world and to congratulate Little Josh on his big win.
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