As Wal-Mart goes, so goes the nation. Or, at least, so go two more lucrative Paula Deen business partnerships.
The world’s largest retail chain cut ties with Deen on Wednesday, as did casino giant Caesars Entertainment Caesars Entertainment, which operates four Deen-themed restaurants.
On Thursday, Home Depot Home Depot and pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk Novo Nordisk joined the growing number of companies publicly ending their relationships with the disgraced chef, who recently admitted in a deposition for a workplace discrimination suit that she used racial slurs in the past and tolerated bigoted behavior in her restaurants.
Home Depot confirmed to NBC News that they’d stop carrying Deen-branded cookware hours after the 66-year-old made a tearful appearance on the network’s Today Show, telling Matt Lauer she doesn’t consider herself a racist.
Slightly more surprising is Novo Nordisk’s decision to dump Deen, since the pharma firm initially backed the Southern cook. The makers of diabetes drug Victoza partnered with Deen in 2012 following the announcement of her diagnosis with the disease. On Thursday, Novo changed its tune, issuing the following statement:
Novo Nordisk and Paula Deen have mutually agreed to suspend our patient education activities for now, while she takes time to focus her attention where it is needed.
Novo Nordisk would like to acknowledge Paula’s involvement in our Diabetes in a New Light™ campaign, where she has helped make many people aware of type 2 diabetes and the lifestyle changes needed to control this serious disease.
Novo Nordisk is the sixth company to end their Deen endorsement deal. A company spokesperson told Forbes they’d consider getting back into business with her once she’s regained the trust of her audience. “It does leave us with an option,” said Novo Nordisk’s Ken Inchausti, “but she needs to focus on rebuilding her relationship with the public.”
On Friday, the butter queen was fired from the Food Network, effectively ending her TV career. On Monday, she lost a deal promoting Smithfield Foods Smithfield Foods ham and pork products.
Target Target, Sears and QVC are said to be considering whether they’ll stand by Deen, who Forbes estimated as the fourth highest-earning celebrity chef last year. She pocketed around $17 million in 2012, mostly thanks to these lucrative endorsement deals.
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