NEW YORK, June 26 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
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
The deposition related to a racial and sexual discrimination
lawsuit filed by a former employee, Lisa Jackson, who worked for
Paula Deen Enterprises.
The lawsuit alleges that when Deen discussed plans for her
brother Earl "Bubba" Hiers' 2007 wedding with Jackson, Deen said
she wanted a "true Southern plantation-style wedding."
"Well, what I would really like is a bunch of little niggers
to wear long-sleeve white shirts, black shorts and black bow
ties, you know in the Shirley Temple days, they used to tap
dance around," Deen said, according to the lawsuit.
Asked about the epithet in the deposition on Wednesday, Deen
said she had used the slur when describing, probably to her
husband, how a black man robbed a bank where she was working in
the 1980s. She said she had used the word since, "but it's been
a very long time."
Deen recalled the bank robbery and said: "I had had a gun
put to my head, a shakin' gun." She did not give a full
description of that incident.
DEEN SAYS SHE IS "HEARTBROKEN"
On "Today," Deen said she was thankful for the support she
has received, and also heartbroken because she has had to
comfort friends distressed about things being said about her
that she said were untrue.
"If there's anyone out there that has never said something
that they wish they could take back, if you're out there, please
pick up that stone and throw it so hard at my head that it kills
me. Please, I want to meet you. I want to meet you," she said,
The 66-year-old celebrity chef had called off a scheduled
interview with NBC on Friday to discuss the situation and
instead released a video defending herself.
The Food Network, which is owned by Scripps Network
Interactive Inc, later said it would not renew her
contract when it expires at the end of June.
Deen's fans have voiced their support for the chef online,
expressing anger on the Facebook pages for the Food Network and
Walmart, with many saying they'll boycott both companies for
severing ties with Deen.