If you live in North America, there’s a good chance you know someone named Josh.
He might be a friend, a relative, a neighbour or a coworker. He might fix your car, teach your kids or write stories in your news feed.
If you do know a Josh, know that he just missed the chance of a lifetime — a chance to fight hundreds of other Joshes for the right to call himself the best of his name.
A horde of Joshes gathered at a park in Lincoln, Neb., on Saturday in hopes of winning the title of Best Josh, in a friendly battle royale that started with a tongue-in-cheek meme on Facebook last year.
Some Joshes came dressed as Jedi, superheroes or warriors. Others proudly wore their names on custom T-shirts. All of them came armed with pool noodles for the epic duel, which kicked off at high noon in front of spectators and several local TV cameras.
Onlookers and fallen Joshes chanted “Josh! Josh! Josh!” as participants whacked each other with foam weapons until only a handful of Joshes remained.
In the end, it was not the biggest, strongest or smartest Josh who won the day. It was a five-year-old boy named Josh Vinson Jr., son of another Josh, who took home the title.
Organizers nicknamed him “Little Josh” and crowned him their champion after the fight. They even gave him a Burger King crown that was a bit too big for his head.
They also got him to sign a can of corn for reasons unknown.
But Little Josh wasn’t the only winner on Saturday.
Arizona college student Josh Swain (i.e. Josh Swain Prime) defeated several other Josh Swains in an epic Rock-Paper-Scissors duel to claim the title of Best Josh Swain, capping a viral challenge that he started last year with a group message on Facebook.
Josh Swain Prime messaged several other Josh Swains out of the blue last year and proposed they meet for the duel that ultimately happened on Saturday.
“Whoever wins gets to keep the name, everyone else has to change their name,” he wrote at the time. “You have a year to prepare.”
The tongue-in-cheek challenge eventually ballooned into a Storm Area 51-type event, drawing hundreds of Joshes from across the United States — though the COVID-19 pandemic prevented Canadian Joshes from joining the fray.
Josh Swain Prime says he came up with the idea after struggling to get a handle with his name on social media.
“For a long time I’ve gone on Twitter and Instagram and I’ve tried to get the handle of just ‘Josh Swain’ and it’s always been taken,” he told Nebraska broadcaster KLKN. “One day I was like, ‘All right, we can fix this.'”
Swain Prime says he put out the call on social media because he was bored. He never expected it to spread widely and become a real-world showdown, but he felt compelled to set it up when he saw the interest. He also used the event to raise nearly US$12,000 for a Nebraska children’s hospital.
“I didn’t expect the whole internet to take it and start contacting every ‘Josh’ they knew,” he said. “I did not expect people to be as adamant about this as they are right now.”
Most Joshes in the United States are between 10 and 40 years old, so it’s no wonder so many showed up.
Joshua was one of the most popular baby names in the United States from roughly 1980-2010, according to data from the U.S. Social Security Administration. It was one of the top five most common names through much of that period, although its popularity has dipped over the last decade.
It’s unclear whether there will be more Josh fights in the future, or if the contest will spread to other countries.
One source within the Josh community told Global News that Saturday’s results are inconclusive at best. He said that the pandemic limited the potential competitors, and that the best Josh might not even be an American.
The best Josh might, in fact, be a Canadian — though there’s only one way to know for sure.
— With files from The Associated Press