Boredom to benefit : The 'Josh Fight' that broke the internet

Once thought to be a joke made in the boredom of quarantine, a good-natured mock battle in Nebraska turned into a genuine charity event.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

The screenshot that started it all.
The screenshot that started it all.
צילום: Lincoln Journal Star

What started out as a spur-of-the-moment prank, executed out of boredom during quarantine, came to its conclusion yesterday as a large-scale fundraiser in a field near Lincoln, Nebraska.

One year ago, a screenshot of a group message went viral, showing a group of individuals sharing the name Josh Swain. The creator of the group announced a set of geographical coordinates and the date April 24th, 2021, jokingly challenging the others to meet there and ‘fight to keep the name’ with the losers being required to change their names.

Messaging sites like Reddit quickly began circulating the picture; as the date edged closer, members of the community began to take upon themselves the task of organizing the event. The first such instance was a crowdfunding page established to help the losing Joshs cover the legal costs associated with changing their names. Others began setting down rules, marking off the location, and contacting local authorities to find out about regulations and restrictions for such a gathering. Some people even set up dedicated websites and Zoom video calls to stream the fight in real time.

On the prescribed day, hundreds of people crowded the location, holding signs and chanting encouragement to the fighters. A referee announced that since there were only two of the original group present, they would play rock-paper-scissors for the title, followed by a mock swordfight in which all participants would attempt to touch one another with foam pool noodles. Many arrived in costume, including dressing as a Roman soldier, cinematic characters such as Obi-Wan Kenobi and Spiderman, and mascots of various sports teams or cities.

At the urging of the online community, the event was converted into a charity and food bank drive as well, with spectators bringing monetary donations, non-perishable items, and various other consumables to benefit a children’s hospital and food bank in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The event rapidly rose to the top of search rankings in North America, with YouTube channels streaming the event taking first and second place on YouTube’s home page. The site has since been marked on Google Maps as the ‘Legendary Josh Battlefield’, with one user ironically labeling it a religious destination.

The winner was one of the youngest participants, 5-year-old Josh Vinson Jr., who stole the spotlight by running onto the pitch as the referee was still announcing the rules. He was awarded a toy crown and belt, as well as a specially made trophy. A portion of the funds raised went to cover his treatment at the nearby children's hospital.

The 'Josh Swain' that sent the original message has posted messages saying that he had no idea that it would even happen, and thanking one and all for their participation. Attendees and local authorities report that the event was cleared by police ahead of time and was conducted with no disturbance of the peace or violations of the public health ordinances in that area. Rumors are circulating that this could become an annual charity event, moving each year to the hometown of last year’s victor.