Paula Deen Loses Major Endorsement Deal Over Ham-Handed Remarks

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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."

Deen is scrambling to cope with allegations that she and people in her restaurants have been insensitive or worse to blacks, women and other groups.

Her empire began to crumble last week after her deposition in a discrimination lawsuit filed by Lisa Jackson was leaked to the news media.

Jackson, who for several years considered herself Deen’s right hand, helped manage her restaurants and became close to the Deen inner circle.

Jackson filed the suit in March 2012, after she spent six months trying to turn around the family's Uncle Bubba’s Oyster House in Savannah, Ga.

The restaurant is run by Paula's brother, Earl W. Hiers, who is known as Bubba. Paula Deen also operates The Lady and Sons restaurant in Savannah.

At Uncle Bubba’s, the lawsuit contends, racial slurs and jokes about women, Jews and blacks were common, as were worker intimidation and porn.

Deen has claimed that Jackson was bent on revenge.

Before she filed the suit, she asked for $1.2 million, Paula's lawyers have said, and threatened to take the matter public if she was not paid.

Whatever the motivation, the bad publicity and bizarre handling of Deen's video apology statement were too much for Food Network to take.

Who knows how far her empire will topple, although a new Paula Deen Facebook fan page has been created in defense of the 66-year-old.

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