The Battle of the Joshes: How A Mid-Pandemic Joke Evolved Into Something Much More


The year-in-the-making Josh Battle

Luke Jones, Author

Last April, a college student named Josh Swain in Arizona decided to start a Facebook group with himself and nine other Josh Swains, one of which shortly left the group. To the remaining Josh Swain’s, the original Josh asked them all to meet on Saturday, April 24th, of this year at 12 PM, at an exact location marked by the coordinates 40.8223286 -96.7982002 where the Josh Swain’s would battle. Whoever won got to keep the name, the losers had change it.

The original message sent by Josh Swain to the other Josh Swains.

Original Josh said this was purely a joke, but as the screenshot made its rounds around social media, people took it seriously. While hype died down for a while, it reappeared earlier this year and someone made a countdown website. That was when Original Josh realized that the Josh battle was actually happening! He then took it into his own hands to make sure everything went alright. Shortly before the chosen date, he made a Reddit post detailing some ground rules, emphasizing that there would be no physical violence. Saying that everyone should bring a pool noodle as their only weapon. Original Josh also officially expanded the name requirements to everyone with the first name Josh. He asked that “Joshs, I am calling on you to uphold the honor that the name possesses and to be good stewards of this event.

Now that the event was truly official, Original Josh decided to do something more with it. He organized a fundraiser for Children’s Hospital & Medical Foundation in Omaha that raised over $12,000, as well as a food drive which collected over 100 pounds of different food items and enough to fill four cars.

On the exact date specified, around the exact time, and close to the original coordinates, (which were selected at random and coincidentally fell on private property, so the event had to be moved with local help) hundreds of Josh’s and other spectators converged on the Air Park Green Area in Lincoln, Nebraska, many of whom were in costume. Notable costumes included a Jedi, Spider-Man, and someone in a full camouflage, grass suit.

The battle with the above stated costumes.

Shortly after Original Josh made his opening statements, reiterating the rules, Josh Swain of Arizona was approached by Josh Swain of Nebraska (Omaha), and the two engaged in a battle of Rock-Paper-Scissors, with Original Josh coming out on top as the victor. As far as we know, Omaha Josh was the only other Josh Swain who attended.

Then the main event began. If you get hit, you’re out, no referees, it was purely based on the honor system. The battle lasted around ten minutes, until just one Josh was left standing – a four-year-old Josh. The champion of the battle was dubbed Little Josh and was given a Burger King crown for his victory.

Original Josh declaring 4-year-old “Little Josh” the winner.

A nice connection was made during the event, as Little Josh had been treated for seizures when he was 18 months old by the hospital Original Josh was raising money for. “It really did feel meaningful that the money was donated to the hospital,” Little Josh’s father said. “The story came full circle with Little Josh.

Post battle, Original Josh remarked on how successful the event had been. Noting that everyone had roughly the same goal at the event: “have fun, be safe, and raise money.” And that especially after the long and grueling year before, it was a very wholesome change of mood, even hinting that it may become an annual event.