Paula Deen's career is looking up again after she landed a $75 million to $100 million investment deal with private-equity firm Najafi Media. The celebrity cook lost many jobs, including a contract with Food Network, and opportunities last year following a racial slur scandal.
In the new business deal, Deen will manage Paula Deen Ventures, which includes her restaurants, cookbooks and cruises among other things, along with CEO Steven Nanula. "I know this is the right decision to lead my team, as we continue to share quality products with my fans - whose love and support have built my brands," Deen said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Najafi Media founder and CEO Jahm Najafi told CNN he had "a deep respect for the hard work, unique content, and quality products which Paula has built around her brand." He added in a statement, "We know that the enterprise will be successful and valuable, as Paula and her team continue to bring quality products and experiences to her loyal fan base."
Deen's career took a dive in 2013 when she was sued for racial discrimination by an ex-employee. In a court deposition, Deen admitted to using the N-word but stated that it was in the past. "That's just not a word that we use as time has gone on. Things have changed since the '60s in the south. And my children and my brother object to that word being used in any cruel or mean behavior. As well as I do," she said.
Despite her defense, many of her sponsors dropped their partnership to maintain their image. She lost deals with JC Penney, Wal-Mart, Kmart and Smithfield Foods among others. The biggest hit came from Food Network which had harbored her cooking shows for 11 years.
The case was eventually dropped and Deen was looking forward to rebuilding her career. "While this has been a difficult time for both my family and myself, I am pleased that the judge dismissed the race claims and I am looking forward to getting this behind me, now that the remaining claims have been resolved," Deen told Us Weekly.