Tucson, Arizona, native Josh Swain faced a crowd of about 200 people donning elaborate costumes and pool noodles Saturday.
“Lincoln, you’ve done it again,” he said.
For the second straight year, Joshes from far and wide gathered to defend the right to their name. Non-Joshes also joined the battle, and together, the crowd helped raise $20,576 for Children’s Hospital & Medical Center in Omaha.
Swain’s first event began after he sent out a Tweet challenging those with his same name to a battle. The joke became an internet sensation. His original message proposed everyone meet at the random coordinates Swain chose — which were in Lincoln.
Because of the first event’s success, Swain decided to bring the Josh Fight back.
This year, the Josh Fight was held at Bowling Lake Park. The battle began shortly after noon.
Several fighters wore costumes — including football helmets, capes, masks and animal suits.
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Tony Rupert of Lincoln wore a robe and slip-ons as part of his “Lazy Josh Sundays” look.
Rupert is a returning participant to the Josh Fight.
“I think that’s amazing that they are able to take something that started off as some guy being bored texting … and then turned around and actually made something out of it,” he said. “It’s not something you hear about very often.”
Five-year-old Josh Vinson Jr., last year’s champion, secured his spot as the No. 1 Josh. His biggest competition was a 4-year-old named Josh Folmar in a Captain Josh Sparrow costume. He was the runner up.
The crowd crowned Battle Creek’s Josh Rakowsky or “The Real Josh Shady” as the winner of the Josh Fight’s costume contest.
Josh the Otter also made an appearance, hoping to spread awareness about water safety for children. The nonprofit gave out gift baskets to the winners.
Children’s Hospital will give 25% of its Josh Fight donations to Josh the Otter.
Nicky McCarville, director of development at Children’s, said the other 75% money raised from the Josh Fight will go to Charity Care — the hospital’s program to assist uninsured patients.
“We’re just so grateful for the Lincoln community and people that have come all over the country and out-of-state to support Josh,” McCarville said. “He’s an incredibly kind and generous person that came up with a really fun and creative event during kind of not-so-great times.”
The Josh Fight will continue to accept donations for Children’s on its website through Monday. Burger King donated $15,000 to the cause and a basket of pool noodles disguised as its signature chicken fries.
Josh Cellars agreed to match the amount raised for Children’s. Additionally, all the merchandise sales from the day will go to Partners in Health, an organization that provides free, international healthcare.
Swain called the event a success, attributing its fun atmosphere to the energy the players brought.
“The enthusiasm from everybody here was just incredible,” Swain said.
For those wondering if the Josh Fight will now become an annual Lincoln event, Swain isn’t sure, either. But he said he’d certainly like to.
“There’s a number of factors in this crazy world,” Swain said. “I think that the hope is to keep this trend going so that we can keep the good times rolling.”
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