All the South’s butter and all her fans’ ire can’t save Paula Deen’s crumbling empire.
People confirms that two more business partners are severing ties with the embattled ex-Food Network star: Target, which is phasing out Deen-branded merchandise, and Novo Nordisk, the diabetes drug company that entered into a controversial partnership with Deen after she revealed her type 2 diabetes diagnosis last year.
“We have made a decision to phase out the Paula Deen merchandise in our stores as well as on Target.com,” the retail giant said in a statement Thursday. “Once the merchandise is sold out, we will not be replenishing inventory.”
Though Novo Nordisk initially stood behind Deen, it reversed its position Thursday. “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,” the drug company said in a new statement. “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.”
Update: Late Thursday afternoon, QVC announced that they are cooling their relationship with Deen – for now. “We have decided to take a pause,” QVC president Mike George said in an open press letter. “Paula won’t be appearing on any upcoming broadcasts and we will phase out her product assortment on our online sales channels over the next few months. We all think it’s important, at this moment, for Paula to concentrate on responding to the allegations against her and on her path forward. Some of you may wonder whether this is a ‘forever’ decision – whether we are simply ending our association with Paula. We don’t think that’s how relationships work. People deserve second chances. And we always strive to do the right thing.”
In a separate open letter to QVC customers, Deen said, in part, “As you know, I have some important things to work on right now, both personally and professionally. And so we’ve agreed that it’s best for me to step back from QVC and focus on setting things right. I am truly sorry and assure you I will work hard to earn your forgiveness.”
QVC, Target and Novo Nordisk join Walmart, Caesars Entertainment Corporation, Smithfield Foods, and The Food Network, all of which have ended business relationships with Deen since she admitted to using racial slurs in a deposition filed June 17. At least the Southern cooking doyenne can take comfort in her book sales – Paula Deen’s New Testament, a new volume that will be released in October, is currently the bestselling book on Amazon.com, while four Deen books have nabbed spots on Amazon’s Cookbooks best-seller list.