Josh: A Name Worth Fighting For


Photo from NPR

It all began as frustration with creating social media profiles. Josh Swain, an engineering student at the University of Arizona, became curious as to how using his full name to create a social media profile never worked as he shared with The New York Times, “I have never met a Josh Swain”. Motivated by “pandemic boredom”, the 22 year old discovered nine other Josh Swains and created a group chat with them. He then proceeded to write these messages: “You’re probably wondering why I’ve gathered you all here today,” followed by “precisely, 4/24/2021, 12:00 PM, meet at these coordinates.” “We fight, whoever wins gets to keep the name, everyone else has to change their name, you have a year to prepare, good luck.”

From there, Josh posted a screenshot of the messages on Twitter with the caption “there can only be one.” A countdown website was created as the internet hyped up the fight. As a result of all the attention this was getting, Josh created “Support Legal Fees to Help Josh Swains Change Their Names*” in which the asterisk actually said that any money donated would go to the Children’s Hospital and Medical Foundation in Lincoln Nebraska, located near the fighting grounds, reported Azi Paybarah of the New York Times. Eventually, he changed the name because it was confusing people and made it simpler to understand where the money would be going.

Finally, the day of battle came. Air Park Green Area in Nebraska was filled with 50 Joshes by noon (only one of which was another Josh Swain) along with 950 spectators. The first of two fights to take place, described Paybarah, was a rock paper scissor match between the Arizona Josh Swain and “the Other Josh Swain” as he is referred to by the New York Times. They tied for the first three rounds, but in the fourth round Josh Swain from Arizona won with rock crushing the Other Josh Swain’s scissors. As the winner, Josh declared the other Josh didn’t have to change his name.

Then, a pool noodle battle between all the other Joshes broke out. The one declared the winner of that battle was “Little” Josh Vinson Jr. who was being treated at the hospital the donations were being collected for as his dad, Josh Sr., told The Lincoln Journal Star (qtd. in New York Times). The story of the 4 year old’s victory and connection to the hospital brought in $11,000 in donations from 230 individuals and the spectators who came brought 100+ pounds of food for the Food Bank in Lincoln, as Josh Swain told Paybarah.

Ultimately, a battle for Josh supremacy turned into a force for good as local Nebraska institutions benefitted and a deeper pride was found in the name Josh, as Josh Swain described.