The Paula Deen empire is burning down, although fans aren't abandoning ship just yet.
As the fallout continues to build from the chef's admission of using the "N-word," Target Corp., which carries a range of products marked with the Paula Deen moniker, announced it is severing ties with the celebrity chef. The Minneapolis-based retailer disclosed Thursday that it will "phase out" all Deen-branded items from stores as well as online. Once the merch sells out, Target says it will not re-stock inventory.
Diabetes drug maker Novo Nordisk also announced Thursday that the company and Deen have "mutually agreed to suspend our patient education activities for now."
There remains a stark contrast between fan and corporate support.
Amid the losses, public interest has increased significantly in Deen with the beleaguered star's book sales catapulting up bestsellers lists. As of Thursday morning, "Paula Deen's New Testament: 250 Recipes, All Lightened Up," moved up to No. 1 on Amazon.com. The book comes out in October. Another one, "Paula Deen's Southern Cooking Bible," was ranked at a nice No. 13. These figures follow a Wednesday report report that revealed a second "Paula Deen Cruise" was added in 2014 due to so many requests from Paula's fans."
Despite the sudden spike in book (and boat) sales, corporate sponsors are swiftly severing ties with Deen. The Food Network announced last Friday that it would not renew the embattled chef's contract after June. On Monday, Smithfield Foods dropped Deen.
West Chester-based QVC released a statement to Philly.com Monday morning, saying that the company has been "closely monitoring these events and the ongoing litigation." The home shopping network added, "We are reviewing our business relationship with Ms. Deen, and in the meantime, we have no immediate plans to have her appear on QVC."
Deen's camp released letters of support from nine different companies on Wednesday that promised to continue to do business with the cook. Nevertheless, Wal-Mart announced it was ending its relationship with Deen shortly after. Caesars also shared its "mutual" decision to remove Deen's name from four of its buffet restaurants.
During her extensive sit-down interview with Matt Lauer on Wednesday's "Today" show, Deen shared, "I'm heartbroken. I've had to hold friends in my arms while they've sobbed because they know what has been said about me. It's not true."
The chef, who dissolved into tears on the morning show, repeated she's not a racist.