Paula Deen 'heartbroken' as sponsors flee
Following celebrity chef Paula Deen's admission that she used a racial slur, she has been dropped by The Food Network, Smithfield Foods and now Walmart. Deen gave a tearful interview on the 'Today' show on Wednesday.
AP Photo/NBC, Peter Kramer
U.S. celebrity chef Paula Deen, under fire after she admitted using a racial slur, said in a tearful TV interview on Wednesday that she is not a racist, as retailer Walmart said it was cutting ties with the chef.
In an interview on NBC's "Today" show, the Southern food doyenne said she never intentionally hurt anyone and that it was important for her to tell "everyone out there what I believe and how I live my life."
When asked if she felt she had racist tendencies, she replied, "No."
It was her first TV interview since The Food Network said Friday it would drop her show after she was sued for discrimination and admitted in a legal deposition that she had used a racial slur in the past.
Deen, who has built a business empire that includes cookbooks, restaurants and kitchen supplies, was also dropped by pork giant Smithfield Foods Inc last week. On Wednesday, Walmart was the latest company to sever ties.
"We are ending our relationship with Paula Deen Enterprises," Walmart spokeswoman Danit Marquardt told Reuters.
Marquardt said Walmart, the biggest division of Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the world's largest retailer, will not place new orders beyond those already committed with Deen's company for branded products including groceries, cookware and candles.
The controversy surrounding Deen erupted last week when a deposition was released in transcript form in which Deen, who is white, was asked if she had used the "N-word," and responded, "Yes, of course."
The "N-word" is a euphemism for "nigger," an epithet for black people.
The deposition related to a racial and sexual discrimination lawsuit filed by a former employee, Lisa Jackson, who worked for Paula Deen Enterprises.