Paula Deen Loses Ham Endorsement Deal; Thanks Fans for Support

UPDATED 06/24/2013 at 07:00 PM EDT Originally published 06/24/2013 at 03:30 PM EDT

Paula Deen Fired as Spokesperson for Smithfield Ham Company
Paula Deen
Wilford Harewood/NBC/Getty
Paula Deen's racial slur scandal is costing her an endorsement deal with Smithfield, the pork company that sold a ham with her name and face on it.

"Smithfield condemns the use of offensive and discriminatory language and behavior of any kind," Smithfield says in a statement. "Therefore, we are terminating our partnership with Paula Deen. Smithfield is determined to be an ethical food industry leader and it is important that our values and those of our spokespeople are properly aligned."

Deen's deal with Smithfield was announced in September 2006.

This is the latest blow to Deen, who was dropped from the Food Network on Friday after 11 years as one of the channel's biggest stars. The business deals are falling under scrutiny following the uproar over her admitted use of the N-word in the past.



Deen made the admission during a sworn deposition in connection with a discrimination lawsuit brought by a former employee who says she was in a hostile work environment filled with innuendo and racial slurs. Deen has apologized for the remarks.

"Smithfield was a key deal for her empire," Allen Salkin, author of the upcoming book From Scratch: Inside the Food Network, tells PEOPLE. "In addition to paying her handsomely as an endorser, the ham company helped her charitable image by delivering truckloads of meat to food banks in her name."

Deen was hit in the head by a Smithfield ham at one of those charity events in 2009.



More at Stake

There is a lot more at stake than Deen's deal with Smithfield. Her deals with QVC, where she sells cookware, publisher Random House, Inc., which has a book by Deen coming out in October, diabetes drug makers Novo Nordisk and Sears Holdings have all said they're monitoring the situation.

Add Harrah's Hotels and Casinos to that list. The company – which has the cook's restaurant, Paula Deen's Kitchen, in several of their casinos – released a statement: "Paula Deen has acknowledged using a racial slur in the past. As a company with a longstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion, we are deeply disturbed by what we are reading in the press and strongly object to any use of racial epithets. We will continue to monitor the situation."

Deen's cookware is also for sale at Target, Walmart, J.C. Penney and Kmart stores.

"I want to send love and thanks for the kind words you have all shared with me and my family, and the support you've shown me this past week," she Tweeted Monday.



• With reporting by LIZA HAMM, STEVE HELLING and RAHA LEWIS

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