Paula Deen in hot water over "brownface" photo

Is Paula Deen a glutton? For punishment, that is.

The celebrity chef is drawing fire after an image of her son Bobby Deen in "brownface" was posted on her Twitter feed. The elder Deen, dressed as Lucille Ball, is pictured in the photograph with the younger Deen in the guise of Desi Arnaz, who played her husband in the 1950s'-era sitcom "I Love Lucy."

People quickly took to social media to denounce the picture as racially insensitive. "So first you 'accidentally' use the N-word and now your son is with you doing brown face, your racism is not a secret anymore," one Twitter user wrote.


An outside spokesman for her company, Paula Deen Ventures, said Deen did not post the photograph, which he noted is several years old. It aired on the Food Network in 2011 as part of a Halloween episode of "Paula's Best Dishes," said Jaret Keller of Key Group Worldwide in an email.

"Paula immediately had this picture taken down as soon as she saw the post and apologizes to all who were offended. As such, Paula Deen Ventures has terminated their relationship with this social media manager."

Paula Deen's business empire continues to crumble

Deen's career ran aground in 2013 after the former Food Network star acknowledged having used racial slurs in the past during a discrimination lawsuit filed by an ex-employee at her Savannah, Georgia, restaurant. The admission caused serious harm to her business empire, once valued at $100 million, as the Food Network declined to renew her contract and other business partners cut ties.

Deen landed on her feet following the controversy. In 2014, Paula Deen Ventures landed an investment of between $75 million and $100 million from a Phoenix private equity firm to help her reestablish her brand.