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Will $75 Million Bring Paula Deen Back To TV?

With a reported investment of $75-$100 million by a private equity firm, Paula Deen Ventures says it's already talking deals with TV networks.
Posted at 12:15 PM, Feb 13, 2014

Last summer, barely any networks or retailers would touch her. Now, celebrity chef Paula Deen's comeback is already worth as much as nine figures?

​"Backers are putting up close to $100 million to help Deen get back in the public eye."

"The southern chef known for her liberal use of butter stirred outrage after she admitted that she used a racial slur." (Via ABC)

According to The Wall Street Journal, Phoenix-based private equity firm Najafi Media is pouring between $75 and $100 million into the celebrity chef's new brand, Paula Deen Ventures.

Deen made headlines in June 2013 after the Food Network dropped her like a hot potato after she admitted to using the N-word and other racist language in the past. (Via The New York Times, CNN)

But all the tearful apologies in the world couldn't stop Deen from losing her long-standing food empire. (Via NBC)

Among other things, she lost endorsement deals and a planned cookbook that was in the works, and Walmart and Target stopped carrying her products. (Via Food Network / "Paula's Home Cooking")

But can Deen really rise from the ashes? Najafi Media's founder and chief executive is pretty sure she can.

Jaham Najafi told The Wall Street Journal"Our investment allows the Paula Deen brand to expand their relationships and the partnerships that are already in place. ... The important thing to remember is that her fan base is rabid. ... The Paula Deen brand is alive and well."

As CNN Money puts it, "Najafi is clearly betting on the zeal of [her] loyal fan base, with [customers] continuing to packing into her restaurants in Savannah, Ga., and buying her branded products."

Many are pointing to other celebrities who have made miraculous comebacks in the past, like Michael Vick, Bill Clinton and even Britney Spears.

"You go back and you look, I mean, look where Tiger Woods is today, you never thought that he would come back. We have countless examples of people that have, and they set examples." (Via Fox Business)

But others have their doubts. 

"When you take the example of somebody like Michael Vick, Don Imus, Tiger Woods."

"The bottom line is, they didn't say the N-word. It wasn't a racist issue." (Via CNN)

Regardless of whether America is ready to welcome Deen back, it looks like she's headed our way soon. The unidentified CEO of Paula Deen Ventures told The Wall Street Journal the company is already in talks with TV networks and retail chains.