Paula Deen said on "Today" in New York she isn't a racist and only used the
N-word to refer to a black man who once held a gun to her head during a robbery.
Deen, a 66-year-old celebrity chef from Georgia, was fired from the Food Network last week after admitting in a deposition for a lawsuit she used a racial slur at her restaurant in the past. Her comment sparked a media firestorm and she issued several apologies for her behavior and pleaded for forgiveness. Her most recent apology has been seen by millions of viewers since it was posted last Friday on YouTube.
Smithfield Foods said Monday it has severed ties with Deen while home shopping network QVC said it is mulling over its relationship with the star.
Deen canceled an interview on "Today" last week, saying she was too overwhelmed and exhausted to go on the air.
She rescheduled for Wednesday and told co-anchor Matt Lauer she wanted to clear her name and show people she is not a racist.
Deen said she regards every one of God's creatures as equal and thinks they all should be treated that way.
She also said media reports claiming she used the N-word regularly were not true and she only uttered the slur after she was robbed by a black man she knew.
"If there's anyone out there that has never said something that they wish they could take back, ... please pick up that stone and throw it so hard at my head that it kills me," she said through tears.
Asked if she understood the N-word is offensive to black people, Deen said: "I don't know, Matt. I have asked myself that many times. It's very distressing for me to go into my kitchens and I hear what these young people are calling each other. It's very, very distressing."
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