Since then, her empire has been caving in like a deflated souffle.
On Wednesday, Dave Tovar, a Wal-Mart spokesman, said of the decision to drop Deen: “We will not place new orders beyond those already committed. We will work with suppliers to address existing inventories and agreements,” reports Anne D’Innocenzio of Huffington Post.
Wal-Mart has sold Deen’s products since 2011.
The pullouts are piling up. Ceasars Entertainment Corp., which runs Paula Deen’s Kitchen in four of its casinos, said they will be severing professional ties with the chef.
Smithfield Foods, where Deen has been a spokeswoman since 2006, said in a statement Monday that it “condemns the use of offensive and discriminatory language and behavior of any kind. Therefore, we are terminating our partnership with Paula Deen,” reported the Associated Press.
Late last week, Food Network said it wouldn’t renew Deen’s contract. The 66-year-old is host of the popular “Paula’s Home Cooking,” which specializes in Southern cuisine.
QVC and Sears Holdings Corp. said they were evaluating their relationship with Deen.
Deen discussed the fallout from the lawsuit Wednesday morning in an interview with “Today” show host Matt Lauer, including her admittance to using a racial slur and the effect it’s had on her business empire. During the interview, she became very emotional and appeared shaken. Deen said she used the N-word once after being held at gunpoint by a black man during a robbery at a bank where she worked.
Speculation is high on whether Deen can repair her image so she can keep on making millions.
“If I hear one more nitwit say, ‘She needs to get ahead of the story. . . ,’ ” D.C. crisis manager Eric Dezenhall told The Washington Post’s Reliable Source. “It’s called damage control, not damage-never-happened. You can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube.”
Deen’s empire, which includes restaurants, cookbooks, kitchenware, public appearances and endorsement deals, has been valued at around $6.5 million annually, according to Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst for The NPD Group.
Will Deen’s tearful mea culpa save her career?
Maybe, but Dezenhall says Deen should stop talking: “Don’t give interviews for a year; then quietly resume work — and be content with less fame. Most people recover, but not at the same level.”
I agree. Stop talking, Deen. The more she tries to defend herself, the more damage she does.
TMZ dug up a video from 2012 in which Deen is being interviewed by the New York Times about racial issues. In the clip, Deen refers to the slaves her great-grandfather owned as the “workers” who helped him operate his plantation -- as if they were the paid help. She goes on to say that she believes the South is “almost less prejudiced because black folks played such an integral part in our lives. They were like our family.”