Paula Deen breaks down on 'Today'

NEED TO KNOW
  • Former Food Network TV host give tearful interview to address 'hurtful lies'
  • Deen's food empire crumbling in wake of racial slur
  • Deen: 'I want people to know who I am'
Paula Deen breaks down on 'Today'

Paula Deen's son: 'That's not her heart'

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Paula Deen broke down in tears during an interview on the "Today" show Wednesday, asking people to see her for who she is as a person in the wake of her admitted past use of a racial slur -- a revelation that threatens to derail her career.

Deen -- in an emotional, heartfelt and, at times, uncomfortable interview with Matt Lauer -- insisted she is not prejudiced after a court deposition surfaced in which she admitted to using a derogatory term for African-Americans.

Read More: Bye y'all: Paula Deen canned by Food Network

"I believe that every creature on this earth -- every one of God's creatures -- was created equal," she told Lauer. Deen also said that there were "some very hurtful lies said about me."

"I know my love for people, and I'm not going to sit here and tell everything I've done for people of color," she said. "I would never hurt anyone on purpose."

When asked directly if she was racist, Deen replied that she is not. Lauer also grilled about sponsors and business partners dropping her, asking if that was her primary concern.

"I am here today because I want people to know who I am," Deen insisted. "People that have worked beside me, have walked beside me, know what kind of person I am."
 
Tearing up, she continued: "I am so distressed that people I've never heard of are all of the sudden experts on who I am...their words are being given weight."
 
Though Deen appeared remorseful, she says she has always been genuine: "I is what I is and I'm not changing," she said. "There's someone evil out there that saw what I worked for and wanted it."
 
She ended the interview with this message: "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. "Please. I want to meet you."

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