My Week on the High Seas With Paula Deen
22 Dec 2014

She hates looking at veins. hi

This is one of the many things I learned about Paula Deen in late January, when I spent seven days living just a few yards from her, aboard a 1,047-foot-long floating shopping mall called the Celebrity Reflection.

We were both traveling on a cruise that was her-themed. The voyage was an excellent field trip for learning things about Paula Deen. In the week I spent aboard the January 2014 Eastern Caribbean Paula Deen Cruise I learned that besides hating veins, she paints watercolors in her bathroom, loves playing the slots, recently acquired one goldendoodle—Gus—and is “fixin’ to get another,” and uses chopped mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups in her peanut butter pie (this last revelation elicited an awed gasp from the crowd at the 1:00 p.m. cooking demo).

I learned that the weirdest place Paula Deen has ever had sexual congress with her second husband Michael Groover, according to Paula Deen, is on a train traveling from New York City to Savannah, Ga.

This week, the Wall Street Journal confirmed what Deen had referred to on the cruise with cryptic excitement as “a big announcement”: Paula Deen Ventures has received an investment of between $75 million and $100 million from a private-equity firm called Najafi Cos., and is in talks to return to television. According to its literature, Najafi Cos. frequently invests in industries that are “out of popular favor.”

In June of last year, Deen fell out of popular favor, becoming an overnight pariah after acknowledging in a deposition for a discrimination lawsuit that she had contemplated throwing an antebellum-style plantation wedding for her younger brother Bubba in 2007. More explosively, she admitted in the same deposition that she had used racist slurs 27 years ago. The suit was dismissed, but not before Deen had lost an estimated $12.5 million in earnings. Endorsement deals were dropped; contracts were allowed quietly to expire; partnerships were suspended “for now” (forever).

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