Paula Deen on losing 'everything': 'I'm still alive'

John Parra / Today
Paula Deen, here at a fried chicken seminar at the South Beach Food and Wine Festival, says she's fighting to regain her good name.

Paula Deen says she hopes her new business venture will help reclaim her once lucrative brand name, along with her personal reputation.

"I'm fighting to get my name back," she tells People magazine in its March 10 cover story.

The celebrity cook known for her Southern dishes lost nearly all of her multimillion-dollar endorsement deals last summer after admitting in a court deposition that she had used the “n-word” in the past.

Deen later apologized through a series of YouTube videos, and an appearance on TODAY, but the former “queen of butter” said she was stung by the backlash she received from people who questioned her sincerity. She said there were days last summer when she struggled to get out of bed.

"When I woke up each morning, it was like my world was crashing down again," she told the magazine, which hits newsstands Friday.

People magazine's March 10, 2014 cover story.

Last weekend, the 67-year-old former Food Network star issued another public apology during a live cooking demonstration in Florida.

"I have heard on more than one occasion ... that I've never apologized,” she told the crowd Sunday at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival. “So if anybody did not hear me apologize, I would like to apologize to those who did not hear me."

Deen also assured the friendly crowd: "I am not a quitter."

Earlier this month, Deen announced her newly formed company, Paula Deen Ventures, had secured between $75 million and $100 million of funding from private equity firm Najafi Cos. The venture will help restructure her brand of restaurants, cookbooks and food product endorsements.

"I used to have dreams that I lost everything," Deen tells People. "And when it finally happens, you think, 'I'm still alive.' "