Paula Deen's Racial Scandal: Can She Recover?
06/28/2013 AT 02:45 PM EDT
Within a matter of days, Paula Deen, the queen of southern cooking, has found herself to be persona non grata at many of the companies who once enthusiastically sold her wares and reveled in her endorsements – after she admitted to using a racial slur in the past.
The Food Network, Walmart, Target, Smithfield Foods and now Sears are among the companies that have severed ties with the cook, author and TV host. Other marketers, like Novo Nordisk and QVC, are pausing their involvement with her.
Deen herself is said to be beyond devastated by her sudden descent into disgrace. But a tearful apology Wednesday on the Today show did little to stop the bleeding.
Yet she does have her supporters. Springer Mountain Farms is one company that has publicly backed Deen, writing on its Facebook page Wednesday: "We have seen her with all types of people and have never seen any sign of prejudice. We truly believe her when she says she is sorry for any hurt feeling she has caused."
Deen has the backing of many fans, too. Her Facebook fan base has grown significantly in the past week – with many people leaving messages of support there.
And of course, Deen's success as a businesswoman remains unquestioned. Her 14 cookbooks have sold more than 8 million copies and the most recent sits at number one on the Amazon bestseller list. Her bimonthly magazine Cooking with Paula Deen has a circulation of nearly 1 million. And Paula Deen Cruises has actually seen a surge of interest in the wake of the scandal.
Despite the silver linings, however, the question is now: Can the 66-year-old recover from what's clearly been a terribly damaging episode? Vote in our poll and share your comments below.