The Daily is reporting that Paula Deen, the large-living queen of heavy cooking, is about to come clean with what some say has long been her dirtiest secret: her diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes.
Rumors of Deen's diabetes first started to swirl in April, when The National Enquirer and The Daily Mail both reported that the TV chef was hiding her disease for fear that it would endanger her credibility as a chef.
There's no doubt that fans would be upset to learn that Deen had been keeping such a major disease, and a major consequence of heavy eating, from their knowledge. It would certainly cast an alarming pall over the reckless abandon with which she endorses delicacies like turducken. And it would lend support to rival Anthony Bourdain's much-ballyhooed critique of Deen's culinary style.
It's worth noting, though, that in the past nine months, Deen has diversified her activities away from her old monomaniacal focus on fatty foods. She's been selling flavored lip balms and announced plans for a clothing line. She wrote a best-selling cookbook and ink a contract for two more, at a new publisher. And her son Bobby recently debuted his Cooking Channel show "Not My Mama's Meals," which showcases healthy versions of Southern classics.
Deen has also been slowly moving toward greater candor in recent months: she admitted to smoking cigarettes on a recent episode of the Dr. Oz show. And Deen will soon be appearing, in her own home, on an episode of Oprah's new OWN show, Oprah's Next Chapter. Given the timing, the latter could even be a perfect venue for the diabetes confession.
But if Deen has successfully hidden her diabetes so far, why change tack now?
The Daily has a potentially convincing answer: she's in it for the money. According to the rumors the iPad publication has heard, Deen has signed a deal to endorse a diabetes medication from major pharmaceuticals company Novartis (see Update II below). Leave it up to Deen to turn what could have been a career-wrecking scandal into a financial windfall.
UPDATE: NBC just announced that Deen will speak exclusively with Al Roker on the TODAY Show next Tuesday "to discuss reports that she has type 2 diabetes." We doubt that Deen (who has not responded to repeated requests for comment from HuffPost Food) would have been so cryptic if Tuesday's appearance were going to be a simple denial.
UPDATE II: A representative from Novartis contacted the Huffington Post with the following statement from the drug manufacturer:
The rumors that Novartis has signed a multi-million dollar spokesperson deal with Paula Deen for a Diabetes treatment are not true. Novartis is not working with Ms. Deen.