After canceling her scheduled "Today" interview last week, Paula Deen made her promise this time to appear on the show Wednesday, June 26. Sitting down with host Matt Lauer, the beleaguered cook addressed the N-word issue that has landed her in hot water.
Asked if she's on the show to stop the financial bleeding suffered by several companies who invested on her, she replied, "I'm here today because I want people to know who I am." She elaborated, "The main reason I'm here today, Matt, is that it's important for me to tell you and everyone out there what I believe and how I live my life."
"I believe that every creature on this earth-every one of God's creatures-was created equal. No matter who you choose to go to bed at night with. No matter what church you go to pray." Insisting that she's not racist, she claimed, "As a child I was raised in a home that my father tolerated bad grades, he would tolerate maybe me breaking a curfew. He told me, he said, 'Girl, if I ever found out that you have behaved in a way where you think you're better than others, or have been unkind, your butt is gonna be mine.' "
When Lauer pointed out her confession in a sworn deposition that she used the N-word in the past, Deen said, "The day I used that word - it was a world ago. It was 30 years ago. I had had a gun put to my head." She went on recalling, "[Lawyers] asked me in all my 66 years on earth had I ever used it. That man was so frightened that day he put the gun to my head ... I had gone out on a limb for him and gotten him a loan."
She began crying as explaining how "distressing" the past few weeks have been for her, stating, "I'm not gonna sit here and tell everything that I have done for people of color. I'm not gonna do it. Somebody else can tell that." She added that she "would never hurt anyone on purpose."
Noticing that there are some people who have defended her, the 66-year-old restaurateur said she didn't want people to boycott Food Network, which recently dropped her. She concluded the interview with a heartfelt statement, "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."
Deen is currently facing lawsuit filed by her former employee, who alleged her of racial and sexual discrimination. Food Network, Smithfield Foods and most recently Walmart and Caesars Entertainment Corporation have cut ties with the former cooking show host. QVC is also reviewing its contract with her.