- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 13, 2014

Paula Deen, the much-loved television cook whose career hit a wall when court documents revealed she admitted using a racial slur years ago, is on the cusp of a career comeback, thanks to a millionaire investor who happens to love her brand.

The Wall Street Journal first revealed that Najafi Cos. CEO Jaham Najafi is poised to finance her return to cooking fame and perhaps television with an investment of up to $100 million.

In a statement on Wednesday, Mr. Najafi said he held “deep respect for the hard work, unique content and quality products which Paula has built around her brand,” CNN reported.

Najafi Cos. is a private equity firm headquartered in Phoenix.

Ms. Deen — a queen of the southern food menu with a touted affinity for real butter, not fake — was a media giant until last summer, when she came under fire for admitting during a court appearance that she had used a racial slur in the past.

That court case, which stemmed from a racial discrimination lawsuit, was ultimately tossed out of court. But the public relations damage was done, and Ms. Deen’s sponsors fled. The Food Network, meanwhile, declined to renew her contract, and she lost her signature cooking show.

That’s all about to change.

Time reported that Mr. Najafi’s cash infusion means Ms. Deen won’t have to rely so much on licensing her brand to others, but can rather become more of a direct partner with retailers — and keep ownership of her brand. Ms. Deen’s company, Paula Deen Ventures, is reportedly already talking with television networks about a new launch.

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