Every so often the internet spits out an occurrence of unimaginable wholesomeness that reaffirms online humanity. What started out as a potentially memey troll turned into an event that will live on in positive infamy for years to come….
The Great Josh Fight of 2021 was an internet phenomenon that captivated the world in the midst of a global pandemic. What started as a simple online joke among friends quickly grew into a viral sensation, ultimately leading to a real-life showdown in a Nebraska field.
The event not only provided a much-needed moment of levity during a dark time but also had a lasting impact on the internet culture and the world at large.
How It Began
The origins of the Great Josh Fight can be traced back to April 2020, when a civil engineering student named Josh Swain sent a message to all of the other Josh Swains he could find on Facebook, challenging them to a fight to determine who had the right to the name.
Swain explained the idea for the event was conceived out of boredom from the COVID-19 lockdowns. He posted a screenshot of the conversation on Twitter the same day. The tweet went viral and received over 64,000 likes and 21,000 retweets within two weeks with hundreds of people (mostly named Josh Swain) joining a group chat to discuss the event.
Months went by, and the group chat was largely forgotten. In January 2021, the original Josh Swain posted the screenshot of the chat on Twitter, along with a message inviting all Josh Swains to a coordinated fight in a field in Lincoln, Nebraska, on April 24th. The tweet quickly went viral, and the Great Josh Fight was born.
Over the next few months, the event gained momentum on social media. People from all over the world began to get in on the joke, creating memes, merchandise, and even writing songs about the impending fight. The original Josh Swain created a website for the event, complete with rules and a location for the fight.
Swain selected Lincoln, Nebraska as a site for the event due to its central location within the United States. (The original randomly picked coordinates were located in a field on private property. The field’s owner refused to host “such a ridiculous event,” and the fight was relocated to Air Park, approximately 2.6 miles away)
The hashtag #JoshFight trended on Twitter, and news outlets from around the world began to cover the story.
Let Battle Commence!
The event drew a crowd of nearly a thousand. The gathering was light-hearted and there was no actual violence involved – many of the Joshs were armed with foam pool noodles to use as weapons. The event quickly turned into a massive gathering, with people of all ages and backgrounds coming together to participate in the wholesome battle.
Only two of the individuals in attendance were named “Josh Swain“. Josh Swain (the event’s creator) beat a rival 38-year-old Josh Swain from Omaha in the rock paper scissors event.
The One True Josh
In the end, a five-year-old boy named Josh Vinson Jr. dubbed (“Little Josh“) emerged victorious, earning the title of the one true Josh. Josh had been treated at the Childrens Hospital for seizures when he was two years old.
He was crowned with a paper crown from Burger King as well as a replica AEW World Championship Wrestling belt. His father stated afterward that his son “had the time of his life“.
A New Josh World
The gathering raised $14,355 for the Children’s Hospital & Medical Center Foundation (far past its initial goal of $1,000) and collected over 90 kg of food for the nearby food bank. Josh Cellars, a Californian winery, decided to triple the donation by donating $30,000 to the Hospital.
The Great Josh Fight was more than just a silly internet meme. It was a testament to the power of community and the importance of coming together in times of crisis – the Great Josh Fight provided a sense of unity and belonging.
The event also had lasting repercussions on the internet culture. It showed that even the most ridiculous ideas can gain traction and become a viral sensation, and it highlighted the importance of community and shared experiences in a world that is increasingly divided.
A second edition of the event occurred at Bowling Lake Park in Lincoln on May 21, 2022 with a significantly diminished attendance. This event raised $20,576, with Josh Cellars agreeing to double the donation. According to The Wall Street Journal, Josh Swain said he would love to have the event occur annually but is unsure he could keep it up.
Ultimately, the Great Josh Fight of 2021 will go down in history as one of the most bizarre and unexpected events of the internet age. It was a moment of pure joy and silliness that brought people together in a time when the world desperately needed it. And for that, it will always be remembered as a bright spot in an otherwise dark and difficult year.
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