My kids ran in a race this morning. Everyone that raced got a shirt. All kids that participated also got a participation medal. Only only child, per age division, got a trophy. My son Parker happened to win his age division and was very happy and excited about his win. My other son finished 2nd to last and was disappointed. That's the way it works.
As a long time TD, I've tried other payout options....one time running a Winner Takes All non sanctioned event. I promoed the event hard, had flyers everywhere and ended up with a dozen players. When I asked other why they didnt play, it was because no one wanted to invest, play well but not win and walk away with nothing. That was enough to decide to not do that again.