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Paula Deen Breaks Down On

Paula Deen Breaks Down On 'TODAY'

June 26, 2013

In her first sit-down interview since being accused of racist remarks, Paula Deen goes one-on-one with Matt Lauer on Wednesday's TODAY show and sets the record straight on what she calls "hurtful lies."

After already apologizing in online videos, the 66-year-old chef was eager to make amends with American audiences, saying point blank that she is not a racist. "The main reason is I'm here today, Matt, is it's important for everyone to know what I believe. ...I believe that everyone should be created equal, and that's the way I live my life."

Deen insists that she's only said the N-word once and it was 30 years ago. "I know how I treat people," she tells Lauer, fighting back tears. "I know my love for people, and I'm not gonna sit here and tell everything I have done for people of color. I'm not gonna do it. Somebody else can tell that."

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The Southern chef adds, "I have never with any intention hurt anybody on purpose, and I never would."

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When asked by Lauer if this was just a facade for TV, she insists, "What you see is what you get." The TODAY co-anchor also points out that lots of money is on the line for Deen, who has already lost two endorsements, but the TV personality says of her fans who've stood by her, "I don't think we can ever underestimate the power of those voices."

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The emotional interview goes on with lots more tears and Deen claiming she has "wonderful" support from Reverend Jesse Jackson. "I is what I is and I'm not changing," she says through tears, even looking right into the camera at points to speak to the audience at home directly.

When asked if she knew that the N-word was offensive, she said, "I don't know, I have asked myself that so many times. ...I go into my kitchens and hear what these young people are calling each other ...it's very distressing for me. I think for this problem to be worked on these young people are gonna have to take control and start showing respect for each other."

Lauer wraps up the interview with Deen telling audiences, "If you've never committed a sin, pick up that stone, pick up that boulder and hit me as hard as you can." At one point she go so far as to add, "So hard at my head that it kills me."

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