Celebrity chef Paula Deen denies she is a racist, dropped by Walmart

Wed Jun 26, 2013 6:16pm EDT
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NEW YORK (Reuters) - 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.   Continued...

Matt Lauer interviews Paula Deen (R) on NBC News' "Today" show in this handout released to Reuters on June 26, 2013 by NBC NewsWire. U.S. celebrity chef Paula Deen, who had admitted in a lawsuit that she had used a racial slur, said on Wednesday that she is not a racist and would never intentionally hurt anyone. Mandatory Credit: REUTERS/Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire/Handout via Reuters