Paula Deen broke into tears during an interview with Matt Lauer on Today about her admission of using a racial slur in the past.
The celebrity chef, who was dropped by Food Network and backed out of an interview with NBC’s morning show last Friday (June 21), denied she is a racist and is heartbroken by the controversy that began with her own deposition in a lawsuit brought by an employee of a restaurant owned by Deen and her brother.
Deen told Lauer she could only recall using the "n-word" once. She had earlier said that she remembered using it when retelling a story about when she was held at gunpoint by a robber who was black while working as a bank teller in the 1980s in Georgia. In the deposition, she had said she may also have used the slur when recalling conversations between black employees at her restaurants.
Wednesday morning Deen said: "I've had to hold friends in my arms while they've sobbed because they know what's been said about me is not true and I'm having to comfort them."
Deen also said if there was someone who had never said something they wished they could take back, "please pick up that stone and throw it as hard at my head so it kills me. I want to meet you. I want to meet you.”
In addition to Food Network, Smithfield Foods has also sacked Deen as a celebrity endorser. QVC, Walmart, Target and Sears are among the other Deen business partners that are weighing their relationships with her.
When Lauer asked if Deen believed her offense was fireable, Deen replied: "Would I have fired me? Knowing me? No. I am so very thankful for the partners I have who believe in me."
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