Paula Deen 'DWTS' Is NOT a Reputation Resurrection

9/2/2015 10:17 AM PDT

Paula Deen -- 'DWTS' is Not a Reputation Resurrection (VIDEO)

EXCLUSIVE

Paula Deen scoffed at the notion she was doing "Dancing with the Stars" to restore her reputation.

Paula was in NYC, flanked by some pretty serious dudes, who clearly did not want her talking about the obvious. It's a big step for Paula, who hasn't done anything this high-profile since the racial stories broke.

She's in great spirits and vows she's not competing for show ... she's gunning to win.