Celebrity chef Paula Deen announced on Wednesday that she has gained an investment worth at least $75 million in her new company as part of her atttempt to return to prominence.
The Associated Press reported that Najafi Companies, a Phoenix-based company, has invested between $75 million and $100 million in Paula Deen Ventures. The company’s owner, Jahm Najafi, also holds a stake in the NBA’s Phoenix Suns and his firm owns the travel-marketing company Skymall.
“I know this is the right decision to lead my team, as we continue to share quality products with my fans — whose love and support have built my brands,” Deen said in a statement, adding that Steven Nanula, head of development for Paula Deen Food Co., would serve as her new company’s chief executive officer.
Deen’s standing as a popular figure on the Food Network took a major hit last year after a discrimination lawsuit filed by a former employee revealed that she had freely used racist anti-Black slurs in her personal past. The suit also accused Deen of segregating Black employees and using slurs in their presence.
The charges against Deen were dismissed was dismissed in August 2013 after the judge ruled that a white plaintiff could not accuse Deen’s alleged racism of impacting her negatively. But in the process, she lost her show on the Food Network, as well as several endorsement deals.
Arturo R. García is the managing editor at Racialicious.com. He is based in San Diego, California and has written for both print and broadcast media, including contributions to GlobalComment.com, The Root and Comment Is Free. Follow him on Twitter at @ABoyNamedArt
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