The news came hours after Ms. Deen made a tearful appearance on the Today show insisting that she was not and never had been a racist as a former employee has charged in a workplace discrimination lawsuit. Since last week Ms. Deen has lost two other major corporate contracts with the Food Network and Smithfield Foods after her deposition in a workplace discrimination lawsuit came to widespread attention. In it she admitted to using racist language and tolerating racist jokes in one of her restaurants.
In a statement Wednesday afternoon Walmart said We are ending our relationship with Paula Deen Enterprises and we will not place new orders beyond those already committed. There are currently 215 Paula Deen branded items on the company s Web site from aprons and salad dressings to reading glasses china and a new line of finishing butters.
Earlier in the day Caesars Entertainment announced that it had severed ties with Ms. Deen by mutual agreement. There are Paula Deen themed restaurants at Caesars properties in Tennessee Kentucky North Carolina and Illinois. Caesars intends to rebrand the restaurants in the coming months the company said.
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 said Jan Jones Blackhurst the company s executive vice president of communications and government affairs.
On Today Ms. Deen usually bubbly during her frequent guest stints on the show appeared tired and subdued. For the first time she publicly referred to the plaintiff in the case Lisa T. Jackson the former manager at Uncle Bubba s Oyster House in Savannah Ga. There s someone evil out there who saw what I had and wanted it Ms. Deen said.
The show s host Matt Lauer whom she stood up for a scheduled interview last Friday tried to focus on the threat to her multimillion dollar business empire of restaurants products and endorsements asking Are you here to stop the financial bleeding Ms. Deen said she disagreed with the recent decisions of the Food Network and Smithfield Foods to end their relationships with her and noted that QVC had not done so. ( QVC however has said she will not appear on the channel as it is closely monitoring these events and the ongoing litigation. )
Ms. Deen s merchandise is still sold by Target and Sears. She has a five book contract with Random House and a lucrative collaboration with Novo Nordisk endorsing its drug Victoza that began when she announced in January 2012 that she had Type 2 diabetes.
In the TV interview Ms. Deen 66 kept her answers relentlessly personal frequently dissolving into tears as she denied ever harboring any prejudice and saying she used a racist epithet only once after she was robbed at gunpoint in 1986. That statement contradicted her testimony in the deposition where she said she was sure she had used the word since then adding but it s been a very long time.
People who have worked beside me who have walked beside me know who I am she said adding that she had to hold my friends in my arms while they sobbed about the hurtful lies that have volleyed around the Internet and mainstream media since the deposition came to light.
When Ms. Deen said she stood by her statement in the deposition that she could not determine what was offensive to others Mr. Lauer asked Do you have any doubt in your mind that African Americans are offended by the n word In her response echoing that of many commenters online she cited the frequent use of the word by African Americans themselves. I go into my kitchens and I hear what the young people are calling each other and it distresses me terribly she said.
Ms. Deen ended on a biblical note saying 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. Please.