But there are writers' contests and then there are money-making scams. I recently stumbled over a contest that I'm pretty sure isn't a scam because for one thing, there's no entry fee. The rules are written in such forbidding language that they put me off at first, but on reading them carefully, I don't think there's a reason not to recommend it. Everyone should read them carefully, though, to know what they're getting into.
It's the Heinlein Society contest. The rules say the story must never have been published before (no surprise there) although it doesn't matter if the writer has published or not. The winning stories (those awarded cash prizes) will be those that "reflect the spirit, ideas, and philosophies" of Robert A. Heinlein. First prize is $5,000, second is $2,000, and third is $1,000. The deadline is next June 1, and the length limit is 15,000 words, quite long for a short story contest.
If you're interested, read up on it. Be aware that you can't submit the story anywhere else. "Simultaneous submissions to commercial publishers or other contests are not allowed. Rights of first publication for entered stories and the right to use contestant's name and image for publicity purposes shall be granted to The Heinlein Society for duration of one year following the contest, i.e., until July 7, 2009."
Apparently, they may decide to publish an anthology of stories, including not only the three winners but some non-winners as well. If you enter, you are in effect submitting for the anthology, too, and you have to sign a publishing contract "at standard SFWA professional rates."
Still, if it's a story that fits their criteria it could be a good idea. For one thing, if your story fits Heinlein's philosophy, it's probably not in style with today's market, so it's fine if it takes a year for it to free up if it doesn't win.