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TheStreet Open House

10 Sleazy Celebrity Endorsements

Paula Deen
TV cooking show queen Paula Deen is renowned for her love of all things deep-fried and pushes unhealthy recipes soaked with butter and sugar, but kept her own battle with Type 2 diabetes a secret -- at least until drug company Novo Nordisk (NVO) cut a big enough check for her to break her silence.

That the revelation coincided with a deal to shill for the injectable prescription drug Victoza opened her up to criticism about the "unhealthy" fare she has cooked, served and taught throughout her career as a restaurateur and media personality. For those so bent out of shape, we might be inclined to offer two words: "portion control." Just because someone on television cooks with caloric abandon doesn't mean you have to eat it, and certainly not in excess. After all, Deen is a TV star, not a doctor.

That's what we might have said, anyway, until it was revealed she was diagnosed three years ago.

We, of course, don't know what Deen was thinking when she decided to accept the Victoza deal. But here's how it looks: She kept slinging bad-for-you food for years, despite knowing firsthand the potential folly of such a diet, and only decided to go public when a big enough check was written. The delay meant no distractions from her lucrative brand by being recast as a kale-eating, soy-drinking sellout.

Let's make a comparison: The host of a TV show, well-known for being a heavy smoker, is diagnosed with lung cancer, but hides that fact and continues to keep promoting tobacco products. Then a drug company pays him handsomely to be the face of a new cancer drug and offer online advice, including "Don't worry, its fine to smoke just a few a day" as long as you use our product.

From a PR perspective, Deen's deal has been a recipe for disaster.

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