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Blog: Paula Deen will survive this 'fall from grace'

9:24 PM, Jun 27, 2013   |    comments
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Between her cookware line, TV shows, furniture and books, Paula Deen's empire is estimated at $100 million annually and financial experts say she's lost half that at this point.

This only a week after court records were released where she admitted using a racial slur in the past and two days after she made a tearful apology on NBC's Today Show. Personally, I think what happened to Deen is an over-reaction.

The Food Network won't renew her show after the end of the month, Target and Home Depot are pulling her merchandise, Caesar's removed her buffets at its casinos...and the list goes on.

But what is not being reported nationally is that Medina, Ohio-based Sandridge Food Corporation says it's proud to provide unwavering support for Paula Deen.

In a release Wednesday, the company stated that in response to her appearance on the Today Show, it is even more evident that Paula Deen embodies a profound commitment to fairness for all.

"We are very pleased with Paula Deen's interview this morning offering her heartfelt apologies," said Mark D. Sandridge, CEO, Sandridge Food Corporation. "She reaffirmed what we already knew to be true -- her equality for all."

As a family company with strong core values, Sandridge says it will continue to stand behind Paula Deen through this controversy. Sandridge will forge full speed ahead on present projects with the Paula Deen Foods team.

The Paula Deen empire is huge. Forbes magazine ranked her as the fourth highest-earning celebrity chef last year, bringing in $17 million. (She's behind Gordon Ramsay, Rachael Ray and Wolfgang Puck, according to Forbes.)

Experts say that, by the beginning of 2014, she will likely have lost 80 percent of her revenue. That will leave her with about $20 million annually.

But her book sales are soaring, which may mean that the average American can forgive and forget her use of a slur so many years ago. It's the companies who fear association with her will hurt THEIR image that were quick to drop her.

Deen is a fighter, though. She grew up in Albany, Georgia and was grappling with a failed marriage, the death of her parents and a prolonged battle with agoraphobia when she started her home-based catering business called The Bag Lady in June 1989, according to her company's website.

Then a mother of two teenage boys, Jamie and Bobby, and on the verge of homelessness, she used her last $200 to start the catering business. That blossomed.

According to her website, it was five years later that she opened her first restaurant called The Lady and Sons in Savannah, Ga. Her first cookbook, "The Lady and Sons Savannah Country Cookbook," came out in 1998.

Soon after, she had her first TV appearance on QVC. But it was when "Paula's Home Cooking" began airing on the Food Network in 2002 that she started to hit stardom, according to her website.

I had the distinct pleasure of meeting her several months ago when she stopped by our station for a promotional event for an advertiser who carries her furniture line. She was gracious and friendly and, if I may say it, a bit shorter than I thought she would be.

This is a woman who has faced the devil before and is facing the devil again. As the saying goes, "the South will rise again." Paula Deen is not a quitter.

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