Deen’s Food Network show, the cornerstone of her business empire, was canceled last summer after revelations Deen made racist comments, regularly used the n-word and treated African-Americans like servants.
She heatedly denied the claims and made a series of tearful apologies that only seemed to exacerbate her problems. Beside the loss of her cable TV show, she reportedly lose more than $10 million in commercial endorsements.
But one Wall Street investor still sees lots of value in her brand.
Jahm Najafi, who owns private equity firm Najafi Cos., has helped Deen raise between $75 million and $100 million through her new company Paula Deen Ventures, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Najafi, who also owns BMG Music Service and The Book-of-the-Month Club told The Journal Deen is moving away from a “pure licensing model” and will focus on Paula Deen magazine and products like Deen’s Springer Mountain Chickens.
Magazine subscriptions are up 40 percent in a flat market, since she left the Food Network, while chicken sales are up 35 percent in the past two quarters, Najafi noted.
Deen also has a considerable presence on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.
One thing is certain, at least so far, Deen won’t be returning to The Food Network. The company says they are not in talks with Deen.
But she is reportedly negotiating several deals with “TV networks, retail chains and other possible partners,” The Journal said.
Deen lost an estimated $10 million in endorsements after a deposition she gave in a lawsuit leaked. She admitted in the testimony that she often used the n-word. She was also accused of being abusive toward employees at the Food Network.
A recent blowup over a similar controversy involving Phil Robertson, star of cable reality show “Duck Dynasty,” may be encouraging her comeback. Robertson blew through negative publicity about racist and homophobic comments he made in a magazine interview.