On April 24th, 2020, a bored Arizona man named Josh Swain collected everyone he could find with the same first and last name and gathered them together in a Facebook group chat. The purpose? Declare an epic battle royale to happen in exactly one year in a random field in Nebraska to determine the ultimate Josh, with every other Josh having to change their name.
Like any Twitter comedian, Josh put a screenshot of the group chat message on his page. The post blew up, and months later, internet users were still eagerly awaiting the Josh Fight, counting down the days until the epic event.
Now, only a day away from April 24th, Josh Swain is gearing up for the Josh Fight, which he’s turned into a charity event for the Children's Hospital and Medical Center Foundation. With the day nearing, we spoke with Josh to get the full scoop on the Josh Fight and what it all means to him.
Q: How does the internet's massive reaction to the Josh Fight compare to your initial expectations for the joke? Did you ever expect it to go this far?
A: Absolutely not. I don't know if you've seen the rest of my Twitter. My jokes get 20 likes max, really. It's just stuff I make for my friends. So when this one blew up a year ago I was absolutely awe-struck, in a surreal state. And then three months ago one of my friends sent me a post from a meme page and they were like, "Hey, this is in three months!" and I was like, "Oh my God they remembered. They remembered and if this doesn't happen the Internet is going to be upset.”
Q: Were you surprised that people just kept remembering for all those months?
A: Yeah. Honestly, I liked the joke; I thought it was a good joke, but for everybody to get so invested and make memes out of it and stuff like that, I just did not expect that in the slightest. It's really funny to see that. Like I said, totally surreal.
Q: How many people do you think will attend the event?
A: I have no idea. I need to make a Facebook group probably. Right now all the official details are on Reddit, on /r/JoshSwainBattle, so I probably have to put that on Facebook so I can maybe get an RSVP, but who knows. Who knows who's going to come just for a joke. I moved the original location to someplace about nine minutes away that's a little more of an open field. I got in contact with the Lincoln Police Department, I was like, "Listen, there's going to be a lot of people here, I cannot give you a number, but it's for charity and it's for a good cause, just wanted to make you guys aware."
Q: Do you expect it to be a big hit, or more of an Area 51 Raid?
A: The nice thing about this is that we're not trying to attack a government facility or military base. Somebody actually did some really good reconnaissance and went to the original coordinates and talked to the person who owned the land, and they asked them, "Do you know a Josh Swain?" and they're like, "No," and so to spare that person the most utter confusion of their lifetime, and to save their crops that we could potentially damage, I decided, "All right, I have to make a post, I have to make some official details so I can control it in a way," because it's going to happen regardless of if anyone wants it to or not. The event is out of my hands, I can only hope to shape it.
Q: So you didn't actually talk to the landowner?
A: No, it's actually been incredible because just random people have been messaging me and being like, "Hey, can I help out? Can I help plan this event? I know you're not from Lincoln, can I help show you around the area or anything like that?" The people of Lincoln are incredible from what I've experienced. It's just been a really cool experience to see how many people are behind the idea and willing to participate in this exercise of absolute absurdity and make this weird thing come to fruition. That's been a really cool part of this whole process.
Q: How far are you traveling to attend the fight?
A: I'm from Arizona. Lincoln is kind of a smaller town, so they don't have any major connections to Phoenix, so I'm taking two two-hour flights there and back. If I didn't go I think people would be upset, and I don't want to look back and wonder, "What would have happened if I didn't do it?” So, worst case scenario I go there and there's twenty people or two people and we're all like, "This is kind of cool, you want to get lunch or something?"
Q: So what are the rules for the Josh Fight?
A: What I have in mind right now is that currently, I am the only first-name Josh last-name Swain that I know of that will be attending the event, so that's not a very exciting event. I want to make sure people have a good time, make it worth their while since they've come out. If another Josh Swain shows up we'll probably just have a rock-paper-scissors game or something like that, and that'll decide who's the ultimate Josh Swain.
Q: So nothing physical?
A: There will be no physical fighting at the event. Somebody actually messaged me and was like, "Hey, I'm from a local university and I could bring boxing gloves and we could do shadow boxing." I was like, "No, no, no, that is not happening. That is not going to be occurring. There is no physical violence at this event." This meme has kind of evolved to where it's not really just the Josh Swain fight, it's also any Josh, and so we've decided to add a secondary battle afterward, which is a pool noodle fight. So everybody's gotta bring a pool noodle, it's going to be essentially like fencing on a large scale, pretty much the honor system. I think we will have a few referees there to make some calls, but it's for honor, so I think people should be able to own up to that. We'll see.
Q: If you end up losing do you actually plan on changing your name?
A: I mean… I would hope that I just fade into oblivion and everyone forgets this afterward, and the internet just buries it like it does a lot of things with time, but I currently have no plans to actually change my name. One, because I'm going to win. Two, because… you know, it's a joke. I'm going with the bit enough to go to Nebraska for no reason, I feel like people will respect me if I don't change my name. There's going to be somebody who's like, "You're going back on your word," and you know, I'll just have to live with that for as long as I live.
Q: When did you decide to turn the event into something for charity?
A: About three months ago when I decided I was going to the event. I've been on the internet for a while, loved memes for a long time, and it's not very often that you get an opportunity where you have the attention and focus of a lot of people at a specific date and a specific time. Don't get me wrong, I love attention, but this is already very self-indulgent as-is, so if I could shift some of this focus to something that's a little more important than my name, that would be great.
So, I got in contact with somebody who knew a local food drive, they said they could bring a box for non-perishable food items. I'm pretty passionate about children's healthcare and so I contacted the Children's Hospital and Medical Center Foundation where they do work in Nebraska and work with children's hospitals across the state, so we were able to put up a donation page. I don't expect a crazy outpouring of support, but if we could get even $1,000 for nothing, for just an absolute meme, I think that would be kind of a cool cherry on top of the whole event.
Q: Do any of your family members know about the event and what do they think about it?
A: As we speak none of them know that I'm going to Nebraska in the morning. My whole M.O. is that I tell my mom after I do things.
Q: So she knows nothing of the Josh Fight?
A: No, no. My cousin from California actually messaged me and was like, "Yo, is that you?" And I was like, "Yeah, that's me." All my friends have already heard about this way too much from a year ago because I've never had any post like that where it's super popular or anything. It's kind of weird if you can be like, "Oh, this is my friend Josh, who is a completely normal guy other than the fact that hundreds of thousands of people know his name for no reason." I don't want to be on a high horse or anything like that, so I haven't told a lot of people.
Q: Is the original Josh Swain group DM still open and does it still get replies?
A: Yeah! When I started the original post last year there was some back-and-forth where people were like, "Oh my god, this is all over Reddit and Instagram, people are messaging me from everywhere," and it was like that for about two weeks or so, then radio silence. Somebody along the lines was like, "Hey, are we actually going to do this?" and I was like, "Maybe we can do a rock-paper-scissors thing or something like that," and last week I sent a picture of my flight plan and said, "Listen, I'm going. I want you guys to know." Two people from the original group have seen it, one could not go, and one did not respond. So as far as I know there are only two or three people that are actually active in that group chat right now.
Q: People have said they're going to livestream the event. Is there any “official” or Josh-authorized stream you can point people to?
A: Not at the moment. There's a lot of people who wanted to jump on it, some people are asking for permission and some are not, some have just said they're going to go. I tell them if they can support the charity then by all means. I'm just kind of letting that stuff figure itself out while I focus on other aspects of the event. Like I said, I love attention, but I don't really want to turn this into something where I step into the limelight.
Q: Do you have any favorite Josh Fight memes?
A: There was somebody who did a remake of the Avengers: Endgame trailer where they included a bunch of Josh's, like Josh Groban, all these crazy-famous Josh's. It's a really well-edited video. It's incredible. There have been some really good memes. It's really funny to go online and see your name on a meme, and the person who made it isn't anybody you know.
— Troy Wullbrandt🍊 (@Troy_ROTK) April 21, 2021
Q: So what happens after the Josh Fight? What's the future for the original Josh Swain?
A: Well, probably not run for congress anymore. If I ever did that, somebody would probably be like, "Hey, what is this thing that you did twenty years ago?" and I'd have to say, "I really couldn't tell you." But I'm an engineering student and I graduate in about three weeks. I have a job lined up, so I'll be taking care of that, then just recede back into public normalcy. Until the anniversary when someone adds me to another group chat or something like that. Hopefully, everything goes smoothly, though.
Q: Are you planning on making the event COVID safe?
A: Yeah, absolutely. I'm not sure what the consensus is behind masks in Nebraska. I know some people are very passionate about not wearing a mask, and I'm not here to go to their home and tell them how to live their lives, but I'm going to be wearing a mask the entire time. I'm double-vaccinated, you can say it's overkill, but you know. I just want to set a good example for everyone there and make sure we're not making this any more dangerous beyond the pool noodle fight.
Q: So if you did lose the Josh Fight and had to change your name, what would you change it to? Any good new names in mind?
A: I don't have any names in mind because I'm not going to lose. I don't know. Someone said, "You should change your name to Jake Paul and then make another group chat with all the Jake Pauls." I was like, "I'm good, thank you though." I think Nathan's a good name, though. I could figure that out.
Josh has managed to raise over $5,000 for the Children's Hospital and Medical Center Fund so far. If you want to help support a great cause, click here and make a donation. You can also follow Josh on Twitter.
The Josh Fight takes place on April 24th at 12:00 p.m. at Air Park Green, GPS coordinates 40.858689, -96.784136. If you’re a Josh, you won’t want to miss it.
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