Sponsors are now lining up to drop Paula Deen, even after the food mogul tearfully addressed her racism scandal on the Today Show.
Bloomberg reported that Walmart will cease carrying Paula Deen's line of Southern-themed cookware and kitchen decorations and Caesars Entertainment said that it would rebrand the Paula Deen restaurants at four of its casinos.
“While we appreciate Paula’s sincere apologies for statements she made in her past that she recently disclosed during a deposition given in response to a lawsuit, after thoughtful consideration of their impact, we have mutually decided that it is in the best interests of both parties to part ways at this time,” Jan Jones Blackhurst, Caesars' evp of communications and government affairs, told The New York Times.
In the past week, Deen has faced several blows to her lucrative business empire, as her sponsors cut ties from the toxic publicity generated by a former employee's accusations of racism. The cooking show personality was dropped from the Food Network and Smithfield Foods, while QVC said that her contract with the company is "under review."
The controversy centers on a lawsuit waged by Lisa T. Jackson, who alleges that Deen and her brother, Bubba Hier, committed acts of racial and sexual harassment during her five-year tenure at Deen's Lady & Sons and Uncle Bubba's Oyster House restaurants.
The aggressive Today Show interview, along with last week's YouTube mea culpa, may have done more harm than good for Deen's brand.
"It was really by far the most uncomfortable celebrity interview I have watched in a very long time," Mark Pasetsky, CEO of the PR firm Mark Allen & Co., told USA Today. "She really needed to take full responsibility for what she said and it appeared to me that the strategy for this interview was to be pointing the fingers rather than to take responsibility for the words she admitted to using."