by Free Britney at

In a new People cover story, Paula Deen says she learned a lot from last year's scandal, and empathizes with others caught up in similar ordeals.

At the same time, she can't help but wonder if she got a raw deal.

Paula Deen People Cover

In 2013, the Food Network dropped the celebrity chef after she admitted in a lawsuit deposition that she used a racial slur a "very long time ago."

The TV star subsequently lost a number of endorsement deals. Though Paula Deen apologized on Today, the backlash made it difficult for her.

In general. To do anything.

"When I woke up each morning, it was like my world was crashing down again," the Georgia native, 67, recalls. "Some people said I never apologized."

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by Free Britney at

Paula Deen is ready to make a comeback, and in a big, big way.

Her new company, Paula Deen Ventures, received an investment between $75 million and $100 million from Najafi Cos., according to The Wall Street Journal.

The Arizona-based private-equity company who invested in Paula is led by Jahm Najafi, who owns the Book-of-the-Month Club and BMG Music Service.

It hopes to help the Southern chef establish new deals and break away from her old business model, which was based on licensing her celebrity image to others.

The chief executive of Deen Ventures, Steven Nanula, said the company is in talks with possible partners, including in the TV space ... just not Food Network.

Deen was fired by the Food Network and many of her other sponsors last year after she admitted to using a racial slur during a deposition she gave for a lawsuit.

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by Free Britney at

Paula Deen returned to the public spotlight for the first time since this summer's n-word scandal, and cried tears of joy after receiving a huge ovation.

The celebrity chef, 66, broke down in tears amid 10 minutes of thunderous applause at the Metro Cooking & Entertaining show in Houston Saturday.

Deen of Cookin'

"These are tears of joy, y'all," she said. "This is my first time out in three months. The one place I wanted to make my first step out was in Texas."

"You are forgiving folks with hearts as big as your state. We all experience pain in some way but pain is also a good thing because it makes you grow."

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by Free Britney at

She's been dropped by corporate partners left and right, but a two-year quest to dedicate a Paula Deen museum in Albany, Georgia, is apparently still underway.

Celebrity Chef

Business woman BJ Fletcher has been working with the Deens and the city to move Paula's childhood to one of two downtown locations for the museum.

"Well, if you think about it, when visitors come, the first thing they do is they come to the Visitor's Bureau," she said of the potential Albany attraction.

"The Riverfront Bar-be-que, Ice Cream Scoops, Flint Riverquarium, et cetera. And it's be cool to sort of sandwich it right in the middle of all of that."

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by Free Britney at

Lots of people still love them some Paula Deen recipes.

Ballantine Books does not seem to care, however.

Poor Paula

The chef's rough month just got worse with the loss of a lucrative publishing deal, despite the fact that her latest cookbook has soared to #1 on Amazon.

Ballantine announced it would not publish her upcoming effort, announcing that it also made the "difficult decision to cancel" her current best-seller.

The division of Random House also announced it is nixing a five-book deal it signed with Deen last year, believed to be worth millions of dollars.

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by Free Britney at

Paula Deen's partnership with Caesars Entertainment has gone bust.

The latest casualty of the celeb chef's ongoing racism scandal, which resulted in her firing from Food Network, Deen was 86'd by the company today.

Apparently Paula Deen's Today interview didn't stop the bleeding.

The company "reached an agreement with Paula Deen Enterprises not to renew the business relationship," a statement released today reads.

While Caesars "appreciate[s] Paula’s sincere apologies," the company believes its move to sever ties with her is "in the best interests of both parties."

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by Free Britney at

After bailing on the Today Show last Friday, Paula Deen appeared this morning in an exclusive interview with Matt Lauer, and emotions ran high.

Defiantly, and tearfully, she said she doesn't need to change when it comes to using offensive words - even if they got Deen fired by Food Network.

Paula told Lauer, who didn't throw her any softballs:

"If there's anyone out there that has never said something they wish they could take back, please pick up that stone and throw it so hard at my head that it kills me."

"I is what I is and I'm not changing."

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by Free Britney at

Paula Deen, who was fired by Food Network Friday, saw her troubles intensify as Smithfield Foods severed its relationship with her Monday.

Smithfield, the world’s largest pork producer, was the flagship in Deen’s collection of at least 17 licensing and endorsement partnerships.

Deen has endorsed their hams and other products since 2006.

Paula Deen Image

At issue is the celebrity chef's recent admission in a lawsuit deposition that she has used racial slurs and jokes that denigrate blacks in the past.

“Smithfield condemns the use of offensive and discriminatory language and behavior of any kind,” the company said in a statement.

“Smithfield is determined to be an ethical food industry leader and it is important that our values and those of our spokespeople are properly aligned."

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by Free Britney at

In the aftermath of the n-word scandal that got Paula Deen fired by Food Network, the embattled chef wants to clear the air once and for all.

She offered a second video apology for using racial slurs in the past, and issued a statement thanking the channel for 11 "great years" on TV.

Said Paula Deen in her statement released to CNN:

"I have had the pleasure of being allowed into so many homes across the country and meeting people who have shared the most touching and personal stories."

"This would not have been possible without the Food Network."

"Thank you again. Love and best dishes to all of ya'll."

The mea culpa was too little too late for the network, which announced that Deen would not be returning following a bizarre video statement Friday afternoon.

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by Tattle Taylor at

Paula Deen may have issued an apology for using racial slurs in both her Savannah, Ga., restaurants and also ever in her entire life, but that wasn't enough for Food Network.

Probably because the apology was terrible, but hey, she tried??

Earlier today it was announced that Food Network dropped the butter-loving Southern Belle known for sending love and "best dishes" to her viewers.

Deen's contract will not be renewed when it expires at the end of this month. 

Deen

Deen, who made her mark on the Food Network with her sugary, fat-saturated foods, has faced quite a rocky couple of years, to say the least.

First she announced that she had been diagnosed with and battled diabetes and received backlash from critics for not modifying her unhealthy recipes. 

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