Paula Deen experienced a dramatic fall from grace last summer, which she believes has put her in a position not unlike that of Michael Sam, the NFL prospect who made the brave decision to come out as gay.

Deen, 67, admitted in a court appearance in June 2013 that she’d used the n-word in her past. She also conceded that she’d considered using an all-black wait staff for a plantation-themed wedding. Though she said the racial epithet was used only a few times – once in a moment of extreme distress – and didn’t go through with using solely black waiters for the wedding reception, the damage to her career had been done.

Paula Deen Compares Herself to Michael Sam

The southern comfort food chef, a Food Network favorite, was dismissed from her job on the network and lost a slew of endorsement deals. In the aftermath of getting stamped a racist, Deen has experienced something she thinks is akin to what Sam stands to face

"I feel like ‘embattled’ or ‘disgraced’ will always follow my name," Deen told People for an upcoming issue. "It’s like that black football player who recently came out. He said, ‘I just want to be known as a football player. I don’t want to be known as a gay football player.’ I know exactly what he’s saying."

Deen, who couldn’t recall the name of the “black football player,” appears to have put her foot in her mouth once again. In an effort to rebuff her image, Deen accepted a multi-million dollar investment from private equity firm Najafi Companies. If Deen continues her off-the-cuff interviews, painting herself the victim, the firm might have reason to worry about what kind of a return they’re going to see on their sizeable investment.

– Chelsea Regan

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