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Paula Deen Breaks Down In Tears On ‘Today’ Show: 'I Is What I Is!'

Paula Deen Breaks Down In Tears On ‘Today’ Show: 'I Is What I Is!'

06/26/2013

Paula Deen, the celebrity cook and restauranteur, became emotional during her interview with Matt Lauer on the Today show Wednesday while discussing her use of the N-word and her fallout with the Food Network and Smithfield Farms.

“There's been some hurtful lies told about me," Deen began her time on the morning show. "The main reason I am here today, Matt. It's important to me that I tell you and everyone out there what I believe and how I live my life. I believe that every creature on this earth was created equal. No matter who you choose to go to bed at night with. No matter what church you go to pray. Everyone should be treated equal. That's the way I was raised. That's the way I live my life."

Lauer was quick to challenge the 66-year-old Georgia native, asking her if her decision to makeup her missed Today show appearance on Friday wasn’t due to financial concerns rather than simply wanting to clear the air and make amends. Deen insisted that she just wanted the public to know her as those closer to her know her do – implying that the later know she’s not the person the media has made her out to be recently. Deen also candidly stated, referring to Food Network and Smithfield dropping her, “Would I have fired me? Knowing me? No.”

When replying to Lauer's more blunt questions, Deen was similarly direct. Responding to Lauer’s, "Are you a racist?" question, Deen replied simply, "No, no I'm not." Of course, her admission of using the N-word was also brought before Deen by the Today show host. She explained the one-time usage of the racial slur: "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."

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After Deen had broken down multiple times within the interview, including while sharing an anecdote about her grandson, Lauer questioned her sincerity. "What you see is what you get. I'm not an actress. I'm heartbroken . . . I've had to hold friends in my arms while they've sobbed because they know what's been said about me is not true," Deen said. "And I'm gonna have to comfort them."

A clearly distraught Deen closed out her interview with a direct appeal to the audience on the other side of the camera: "If there's anyone out there that have 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. I is what I is, and I'm not changing."

Prior to the interview, reports estimated that millions of dollars for the Paula’s Home Cooking star were at stake during her Today show appearance. If she was believable, she’d hold on to her remaining partners; if not, they could all start to flee.

Deen has been under fire since she admitted to using the N-word in the past, while testifying at a racial discrimination lawsuit in which she’s being sued by a former employee.

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Read more: Paula Deen, Today, Matt Lauer, Smithfield Foods, Food Network, Courts

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