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Paula Deen is back in the saddle. And to prove it, she rode her former Food Network colleague Robert Irvine like a horse across the stage at this weekend’s South Beach Wine and Food Festival.
On Sunday, the former Food Network star apologized once again for what she had done, without explicitly mentioning her admission that she’d used racial slurs or the allegations of racial discrimination and sexual harassment that she faced.
STORY: Paula Deen Discrimination Lawsuit Dismissed
“We have come off of a very hard summer, my family and I, my team, my partners,” Deen said to a cheering crowd of several hundred fans after she took the stage for a cooking demonstration, according to the Associated Press. “But you know, I have heard on more than one occasion … that I’ve never apologized. So if anybody did not hear me apologize, I would like to apologize to those who did not hear me.”
“I am not a quitter,” she added.
The crowd cheered, “You don’t need to apologize,” and “We want you back, Paula!” To which Deen responded, “Ya’ll’s cards and letters that I got helped me get out of bed every day.”
Later, when Irvine joined her onstage, Deen rode him like a horse, reenacting a bit they did during a previous festival.
STORY: Paula Deen Makes Tearful First Public Appearance Since N-Word Scandal
“I’m back in the saddle!” Deen yelled as she rode across the stage.
Last summer, during a dispute with a former employee who accused her of racial discrimination and sexual harassment, Deen admitted she had previously used the n-word, which created a media firestorm and led to the crumbling of her business empire, with many companies cutting ties with the chef. Indeed, Food Network declined to renew her contract when it expired at the end of June, and Walmart, Home Depot, Sears and Target all ended their relationships with her. The suit was settled in August.
Deen has since stayed out of the spotlight, but earlier this month, it was reported that she received a $75 million-$100 million investment from private-equity firm Najafi Cos. to help her make a comeback.
Watch video of Deen riding Irvine below.
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