There are SANCTIONED meets and NON SANCTIONED meets
SANCTIONED meets are those that strictly follow a set of guidelines known as “rulebook” from a “sanctioning body”, also known as “federation”
NON SANCTIONED meets are informal powerlifting competitions more or less inspired in traditional PL rules, but accommodating for local conditions (for example: lack of certified, calibrated plates, which can be substituted by regular gym plates; unofficial racks; a smaller number of bodyweight classes; systems that deviate from the traditional “round” system, etc)
NON SANCTIONED meets are really super OK! They should be the starting point for people who want to get acquainted with the sport. They are cheaper, usually more educational and flexible.
SANCTIONED meets are pretty costly and the results should mean what their nominal value displays. They should also be strictly ruled. Plates should always be official, certified, calibrated, colored disks manufactured by a certified manufacturer. Referees should also be certified and identified with proper attire.
The immense majority of SANCTIONED meets today are really just informal, non-sanctioned-like meets, but with a federation flag stamped on the poster and the certificate (if there is any). This sucks.
There is no money in powerlifting. To make it profitable, it must suffer extensive changes in its traditional procedures. Most of us don’t want that. We’re ok with there being no money in it. If you want to make money from something you do well, try something else. Most of us do and those who don’t, make no money at all or make “questionable source” money
Powerlifting “superstars” are imaginary celebrities in a fictional world. This is a minuscule sport and the great athletes we have should be “celebrated”, but they are definitely not “celebrities” in the conventional sense of the word. Therefore: 1. don’t be stupid to think you are one; 2. Don’t be stupid to wish you were one, since, by definition, they don’t exist
Sponsorship is great. I have some and I treasure mine. But sponsorship in powerlifting will minimize the cost of training and competing, at the best. With luck. Never, ever expect sponsorship to provide for you. You need a job.